HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Dr. Lynn Griffin, Coker University’s Vice President of Athletics and Athletic Facilities, has overseen the additions of 10 new sports since taking over as the director of athletics in 2010.
But there’s still one sport not in the fold that seems to be on everyone’s mind.
“Adding football is one of the things that we’re asked the most from the community, because it’s such an avid football place,” Griffin said.
The answer to those questions might be coming in the near future.
Coker recently paired with Collegiate Consulting to do a feasibility study on whether to add a football program in the near future.
“As an institution, we’ve added sports, and we’re in a conference (South Atlantic) that sponsors football, so we made a decision as an institution with the board of trustees to do a feasibility study,” Griffin said. “We started it to just actually find the real numbers – what it would cost, what we’d have to build with residence halls, dining facilities, faculty and those things, because I don’t think you can make that decision unless you have all the facts behind it.”
No decision has been made as the board continues to review the findings in the study, Griffin went on to say, and there is no timetable for when a final decision might be made.
“Right now, there are no plans of football coming to Coker,” Griffin said. “We’re just looking and studying as we try to do our due diligence for what’s best for the institution over the next 10 years to 100 years.
“The board will continue to review it at their meetings; discussions will continue to happen on campus and within the community and at some point we’ll say, ‘Nope, we are not adding football' or 'Yes, we will consider adding football, and this is our timeline.’”
If the decision is made to go forward, the first step will have to be securing financial backing, as the cost of adding a program like football is enormous. On top of additional coaching and athletic staff members, more residence halls will have to be built, as the school is currently at full capacity, Griffin said.
Equipment and travel costs will also be hefty monetary additions, and the biggest cost of all probably will be the construction of an on-campus stadium sometime in the future.
“Those stadiums can run anywhere from a $3 million stadium to a $12 million stadium, depending on how you want to run those things,” Griffin said. “… The (total) numbers can go from looking at doing something for $15 million to doing something for $25 million. It just all depends on how big of a scope that you’re looking at in terms of what it will (cost) an institution.”
An on-campus site would be very important long-term, Griffin said. In the meantime, there are several options that could be considered, such as the partnership Limestone College – a future SAC member – has with Gaffney High School and using its facilities.
Kelleytown would probably be an attractive option, but no discussions between Coker and Hartsville High School have taken place in regards to that at this time, Griffin said.
“We haven’t had any conversations with Hartsville,” she added. “We basically just wanted to gather the data before we had those types of conversations to see if we even want to talk about having football.”