RGV college football takes step forward; Referendum sought to increase athletics fees for new programs

College football in the Rio Grande Valley is one big step closer to becoming a reality.

UTRGV is seeking a referendum to increase athletics fees in hopes of generating enough revenue to pay for a football program as well as marching bands for both campuses. It would also help establish a women’s swimming and diving program.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Division of Strategic Enrollment and Student Affairs proposed a referendum Tuesday to the Student Government Association.

The association will now decide whether the referendum, which is proposing an increase to the intercollegiate athletics fee, goes to a vote by the student body, the university said in a news release Wednesday.

Those proposed funds will be used to expand and add programs on the UTRGV campuses. Those plans include:

>> Expansion of spirit programs on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses;

>> Establishment of a women’s swimming and diving program;

>> Establishment of a football program;

>> Establishment of marching bands on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.

“ It’s the first step in a process that we hope will allow us to really impact the student experience and the alumni experience for years to come at UTRGV,” said Jonah Goldberg, senior associate athletic director for communications. “This can be a transformative move for the university and the Rio Grande Valley.”

The release added that the football team plans to “play in Brownsville and Edinburg with marching bands performing, and the swimming and diving team will compete in a new natatorium being built in Pharr.”

The proposed increase would start in 2022 and only affect new incoming students and students outside the UTRGV guaranteed tuition and fees program. The proposed increase is $11.25 per credit hour, capped at 12 hours.

The idea of exploring the addition of a Division I football program was first voiced by UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque and university President Guy Bailey on Jan. 21, one week after the Western Athletic Conference announced a five-team expansion and the reinstatement of football.

Current timelines project swimming and diving to start in 2024, with football to follow in fall of 2025.

Up next, the association must motion to move forward with the referendum, followed by a vote by students on the fee increase.

The next student government meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Officials are anticipating to have the vote, if agreed upon by the association, to take place sometime during the fall semester.

If the vote is approved by students, it then needs to be approved by the Board of Regents, more than likely early next year.

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Monitor staff writer Ivan Palacios contributed to this report.