An Important Direction for Our University Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 9:35 a.m.
Dear Jacksonville University Faculty and Staff:
Greetings, and welcome back to campus from the holiday break. I hope you all enjoyed time with family and friends.
It’s an exciting time of growth and vitality at Jacksonville University. We are constantly examining the best ways to continue investing in our long-term future as a premier private University. We’re focused on programs that support our faculty and staff, and that help our students grow, thrive and contribute on campus and after graduation – while delivering an exceptional student experience.
With that goal in mind, Jacksonville University and our Athletics Department, with input from several experienced, independent consultants, conducted a data-driven evaluation of Division I intercollegiate athletics. This is an early pillar of our ongoing University-wide Strategic Planning effort. For more than a year, we have explored a variety of options designed to strengthen theAthletics Department, benefit the entire University, and position us for ongoing excellence.
We set out to assist our athletes in their goals to compete, to excel, and to graduate. We know this type of investment fuels a virtuous cycle: excellence and improvement build on each other. It helps us recruit top-quality student-athletes and coaches, which allows us to compete at the next level. And our athletes are frequently among our top-performing students and, later, committed and engaged young professionals.
The virtuous cycle supports our mission to enhance the student experience, and recruit, develop and graduate engaged global citizens who are job-ready. This kind of investment requires detailed analysis, realistic planning and – occasionally – difficult decisions to help drive us forward to sustainable excellence.
After careful thought and thorough analysis, I am announcing today that Jacksonville University will no longer play football, effective immediately.
This was a difficult and complicated decision. Our football student-athletes and coaches are talented, tenacious and hard working. We respect them immensely. Through our evaluation, we determined football is not a long-term strategic fit for Jacksonville University: the enormous (and increasing) resources required to fully support the program outweigh the benefits to theoverall Athletics Department and to the University as a whole. Reinvesting these resources into our other programs and across our University helps us improve the experience for all 4,000+ students -- including our 450 Division I student-athletes.
Let me be clear: our commitment to each football player and coach continues well beyond today. They are friends, classmates and colleagues. They are all an important part of our Dolphin family. We understand some of these student-athletes will look for opportunities to play football at other schools. We respect that decision and will support them in that process. If our football students-athletes choose to stay at Jacksonville University, as we hope they do, we will support them with full tuition scholarships until they graduate. Additionally, we will honor theemployment agreements of our head football coach and each of his assistants, and we are offering them enhanced resources to assist in their job search.
Attached to this email are answers to frequently asked questions to assist you in addressing some of the questions that may arise in your important role as a campus leader. We also have assembled a talented team of experts from key areas of the University to immediately assist impacted students. I know you’ll join me in offering support and encouragement to our football student-athletes and coaches in the days and weeks ahead as they pursue the next steps in their academic, athletic and professional careers.
I thank you for your continued support and hard work as we dedicate ourselves to excellence.
Class of 1981