NASH COUNTY, N.C. — With help from alumni and the community, North Carolina Wesleyan College is adding a Division III football program.
Construction on new athletic offices and a weight room is nearly complete. In less than two months, North Carolina Wesleyan College's first football team will hit the practice field.
"A lot of people are excited. A lot of people are looking forward to having Saturday afternoons here in Rocky Mount that are exciting," football coach Jack Ginn said.
Ginn is still busy getting uniforms and equipment together, but the team is nearly complete. Almost 100 players have committed to the inaugural season.
"Recruiting has exceeded my expectation, and that's good news for everybody," Ginn said.
The Wesleyan Bishops will play in the USA South Conference against other private schools like Greensboro and Methodist College. They will play at Rocky Mount's city stadium, where Rocky Mount High School plays.
The team will not take the field for its first game until September, but the school is already seeing the benefits of a football program.
"We'll more than double the incoming class from two years ago, and that's pretty exciting stuff for a small college of under 1,000," said Dave Voskuil, vice president of enrollment.
Voskuil credits the new football program and more aggressive admissions campaign for the rapid growth. The entire school will score, thanks to football. More tuition money will allow the college to improve programs and expand the campus.
"Football brings a dimension to a college campus where more people are going to be on your campus are going to know about your school," Voskuil said.
The college expects to grow at least another 20 percent by fall 2005, which means there will be plenty of students in the future to fill the empty seats.
Division III players do not get any athletic scholarship money to attend school. North Carolina Wesleyan's first home football game is scheduled for Sept. 18 against Greensboro College.