JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Football is kicking off to a new future at ETSU.
The Tennessee Board of Regents approved a $125 fee for students Friday afternoon, meaning the university can start making official plans to put the Buccaneers back on the field.
The vote sailed effortlessly through the Tennessee Board of Regents, and with the okay to charge ETSU students 125 dollars a semester, that paves the way for the return of football at ETSU.
"The board's action today was the next in a series of steps in a process that we've been engaged in on campus for the better part of a decade," Dr. Brian Noland, ETSU's president said shortly after the meeting.
With the first game anticipated in the fall of 2015, director of finance, David Collins, told us there's lots of work ahead. "Of course, football is going to come in slowly. It's going to be built up right now," he said.
One of the first things on the list is choosing a leader. "[We'll] probably be hiring a coach in the next couple of months to begin the process," Collins said.
Then, there's tackling the dollars and cents of it all. Collins said it's likely the program will cost about $4.9 million a year, and bring in about $4.5 million a year; all but a million coming from those student fees alone.
But Collins said these are just guesses, and there are a lot of details still up in the air, like conference affiliation, fundraising goals, and even where to take the field.
ETSU officials have told us that the Bucs will not be playing inside the mini dome, but where exactly they will be playing football has yet to be decided.
However, we found out playing on the same turf as the Hilltoppers could be an option temporarily. "There's been a lot of interest in perhaps playing at Science Hill for the first year or two," Collins told us.
"We are open to that to that. We're willing to work with a lot of different members of our community," said Keith Turner, Science Hill's athletic director.
It could take several years to get the program fully up and running. "We're going to need the support of everyone in East Tennessee; our faculty, our staff, our students and the community as a whole," Dr. Noland explained.
But that first game will be a homecoming ten years in the making.
Dr. Noland told us he expects to announce more details next week.
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