Undefeated since 1947

Hearing the roar of fans painted in teal, navy blue and gold on Saturday afternoons brings excitement to our bones. One can only wonder why UNCW lacks the school spirit that a collegiate football program can provide. If a single sport unifies the student body, then why not take immediate action?

According to ESPN, more than 600 universities contain collegiate football, 32 teams are located in North Carolina. So, why doesn’t UNC Wilmington have a football program? Location, finances, and UNCW’s brand image can all contribute to that fact.

The SeahawkUNCW’s newspaper states, a university requires roughly $50 million dollars to start a collegiate football program. Raising the tuition at UNCW would be one option if a collegiate football program were desired. A charity fund needs to be set up, but the amount donated is only 1/6th of the money UNCW receives annually. 



Size is a factor on whether a university contains a collegiate football program; Coastal Carolina located in Conway, South Carolina recently added a collegiate football program and revamped their stadium in 2003. Compared to UNCW, Coastal Carolina has similar faculty/staff to student ratio, location (distance to local beaches and cities), and similar student enrollment. Bottom line, the main difference between UNCW and CCU- school spirit. Does a university with a collegiate football program contain greater school spirit? According to USA Todayschool spirit within the student body is greater at a university that contains collegiate football. This sport helps to unify the student body unlike any other collegiate programs at universities.



But, does a football program align with UNCW’s brand image? We believe the answer to that question would be no. UNCW encompasses a laid-back, chill, and relaxed atmosphere. Our image is centered around the hype of Wrightsville Beach, rather than tailgating football games. UNCW’s image is reflected to its audiences as a stress-free university and town, and the idea of joining a mellow student body attracts prospective students. Part of what facilitates UNCW’s relaxed and personable image, is the small class sizes and opportunities for hands-on applied learning. If the university shifted its focus from academics to athletics, the financial strain would likely cause a greater faculty/staff to student ratio. This would affect UNCW’s brand image, as the key ingredient that helps build the brand would not be as strong. Are we willing to give up one of the aspects that differentiates UNCW from its competitors? A part of UNCW that provides an academic advantage to our students for the addition of a collegiate football program, making UNCW similar to other North Carolina universities?

All factors aside, the real question lies with whether students desire a collegiate football program. A good researcher does their homework and we spoke to 10 students to get to the bottom of this matter. A large chunk of the student body opposed having a football team, citing it changed UNCW’s brand image. Of the students surveyed, 65% supported a team, 25% opposed, and 10% was neutral. We did find those who supported a UNCW football program were very passionate. Those students felt football would bring the student populace together. The main sticking points are location and money. However, all obstacles can be reduced if the student population united their efforts. As a UNCW student, is a collegiate football program worth the money? Are you willing to change UNCW’s brand image, evolving UNCW into something more?

-Jonathan Callahan, Erin Fouhy, Julia George, Joseph Hines, and Sarah Suggs

18 thoughts on “Undefeated since 1947

  1. I honestly can’t decide if UNCW needs a football team. On one hand, I feel it would absolutely assist in the unification of the student body and faculty. It would provide a sense of pride for students as they came to each game decked out in UNCW attire… Or would it? I see many students walking to class every day wearing Carolina shirts, ECU shirts, and NC State shirts. Would those students give up their allegiances to those universities all because UNCW started a team? Probably not. There are many students I hear complaining about the lack of football team and that shocks me. If you knew there wasn’t a football team here, did you think we would be getting one in the 4 short years you’re attending classes here? UNCW is much more well-known for its proximity to the beach and “stress free” environment than anything else. At the end of the day, I know I chose UNCW for things other than the athletics department.

  2. I love this post. As a girl who grew up with sports all around her (my mom loves anything sports-related, and my step-dad is on a sports radio show back home), I’ve been to more college football games than I can remember! I like them fine, and they’re fun, but that wasn’t what I wanted in a school–it wasn’t a must-have on my list. My mom wasn’t overly happy when I did choose a school that didn’t have a football team, and to this day (I’m a junior now) she asks me what exactly I do on Saturdays if there’s not a football game to go watch! But, as you said, it would be so difficult to fit football into the brand here at UNCW. It’s just not us. Sure, we like to party and have fun, and be active, but we do that in totally different ways than colleges with football teams. We’ve got a beach! Who needs a football team when you’re five minutes from the ocean? Great post, keep up the good work!

  3. Great blog post! It is always interesting to read facts you did not know of before regarding your own University. It does not bother me that UNCW does not have a football team. However, I can totally see where some students would be passionate and wanting of one. I am sure it would get much publicity and draw more attention to our school.

  4. I tend to very much agree, while I love football, I definitely don’t want to see a team here at UNCW!! I think it would completely ruin the school’s brand image and change the entire feel of the campus. Not to be too picky though, but I would say that speaking to only 10 students on the issue is no where near enough. I only bring this up because I would love to get a true feel for how the student body feels about this issue. Maybe you could do a bigger test sample and post that on a future blog.

  5. I don’t think UNCW needs a football team at all, because I feel it would violate the brand image that UNCW has. I was a transfer student from East Carolina University, which everyone knows is a big football loving college; and I hated it. All anyone cared about was football games, whereas UNCW has so much more to offer than tailgating.

  6. I completely agree that UNCW does not need a football team. Our image is very chill and relaxed. Does this mean that students just do whatever they feel like and do not go to class? Absolutely not! UNCW’s school pride is not shown from our sports team or even from Teal Tuesdays. Our school shows school spirit through academics. We were not just ranked one if the top 10 South Eastern schools for no reason 😉

  7. I really like how you gave the statistics of the student ratio of who is for/against/neutral to us having a football team. I believe that UNCW would be trying to accomplish a lot in a short period of time for no reason at all. This is because UNCW would want to give students a football stadium as soon as possible with a minimum amount of funding. Most UNCW students pride ourselves on not having a football team, we think that we have it all without having it all. Yes not all of us participate on ‘teal tuesdays’ but would we even take a football team seriously? I do not think that we need to change our brand image to make the 25% of students happy. I have friends and family that attend universities with football teams and yes it is fun to go there to visit, but I enjoy visiting the football driven campuses, not attending them. Great article and great points!

  8. I agree with the idea that adding a football team would change the UNCW image. Although I’d love to tailgate on the weekends before heading over to a crowded stadium, I do not think that’s the “brand” of UNCW. We aren’t a big city in the middle of the state, we’re a smaller town on the coast that centers around surfing, fishing, and as stated in the post, a “chill” atmosphere. Although students might ideally like the integration of a football team, I think that should it happen, a lot of people may then turn away from the school because they think it no longer is true to it’s identity. A brand can’t be everything – it needs to stay true to what made it work in the first place.

  9. Transferring from a University with a strong passion for football, it is a little disappointing not having football here. However, the reason I love UNCW is the relaxed nature everyone has here. I think a football team would jeopardize the ‘chill’ here. I think this school is already very unified, and we don’t need a football team to bring us together.

  10. I strongly agree that part of what facilitates UNCW is it’s relaxed and personable image. Not only would football shift the focus from academics to athletics, but having a football team would even change how it feels to go to UNCW. I will say, however, that I still would have gone to UNCW if it had a football team. That being said, I came to the school knowing full well that athletics weren’t UNCW’s top priority. If someone was really passionate about wanting football at UNCW, they should have chosen a different university to attend.

  11. As a Track and Field athlete here at UNCW, I understand the lack of school spirit at this university. While I do believe that a football team would generate a lot of revenue and school spirit to unite the student body, the formation of a football program here just is not realistic. UNCW barely has enough funds to support the athletic teams they already have, and major sacrifices would have to be made by the university to make a football team possible. Unless a multimillion dollar donation is made to fund a football team and the needed facilities, there is no way it will ever happen.

  12. I wouldn’t mind having a football team at our school but I do think it would change the vibe and also change the type of people who apply here. I believe our school does have school spirit, just a different kind. We have school spirit that isn’t focused on athletics but instead focused on our pride and love for our area and city.

  13. I agree that if we added a football team to our school, we would sacrifice the brand that UNCW has made. We aren’t a school that is known for crazy parties and out of hand tailgates. I’m honored to be a student attending a school known for academics. Yes, a football team might enhance school spirit but I believe that that is something the student body, as a whole, should work on. It is unsure what is needed to boost spirits at school, this is why we must work together as Seahawks to figure out how to make every student feel involved!

  14. In my opinion if UNCW had a football team, it would increase school spirit and campus involvement. Yes, UNCW is known for being “chill” and “laid back” … but I feel that having football team wouldn’t conflict with the brand image and attract more students.

  15. Interesting piece about school spirit, football, and UNCW’s brand. Contrary to what some people think UNCW has school spirit, its just a different type. So many people for some reason only put school spirit together with athletics, specifically football or basketball, but there are many more factors that go into determining a school’s level of school spirit. Except for the big schools most college football programs end up losing money in the end and if we did create a football program here we would never be able to catch up with the top football schools. And definitely in the end if UNCW did get a football team our brand would change.

  16. I really wish that UNCW would have a football team. I transferred from University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks), the school was THRIVING with school spirit. Football brought the students together to support one entity.
    When I was college searching I didn’t even bother looking at schools that didn’t have a football team, that was really important to me. I grew up with a father that went to Clemson, and his stories of football games and all the spirit he still has for Clemson is unbelievable. When I transferred to UNCW it was my only option (no offense), I had to be close to my family and this was the closest choice. I feel that if UNCW wanted a football team the money that came out of what it would bring to the city and the school, would more than make up for the money it would cost to have a team.

  17. I know a lot of people who think it’s odd that we don’t have a football program and, therefore, think we don’t have school spirit. However, I think UNCW has a different kind of passion that extends towards location and environment rather than sport. I don’t think a larger athletic program should be in our future, though, until we increase our spirit surrounding the university’s existing programs.

  18. The football debate at UNCW is one that I observe and participate in all the time. I am mostly concerned with academics and campus life so athletics has never been a real interest in mine. While I worked a concessions stand at Duke basketball and football games and enjoyed the atmosphere, I do not find myself missing it often. When I think of UNCW as a brand associated with relaxation and the beach, I am not sure if a huge athletics program fits into the equation. To increase school spirit, I think UNCW should continue to focus on growing its campus life.

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