Back To The Gridiron -- Roanoke College To Introduce Football Starting in 2025
By Ethan Hoffman -- Eagle Editor
The date is November 13th, 1942. The Roanoke College Football Team has just finished their final game in program history, a 42-0 loss to Catawba College. The advent of WWII means the team roster has been gutted by the United States military draft, forcing the program to close abruptly.
81 years later, Roanoke College is attempting to bring back its football program, aiming for a 2025 revival.
Despite the fresh announcement, the thought of Roanoke College re-instating football into their athletics is not a new one. In 1985, around the time of the grand opening of Salem Football Stadium, there were reported discussions within Roanoke College admin to bring back football; however, those plans clearly fell through.
The newest revisit to the program is the one that finally got the ball rolling, according to Kim Blair, the Vice President of Relations at Roanoke College. “[Roanoke College] did a study shortly after President Shushok’s arrival … The board used those studies and came to a decision, passing a resolution in April.”
That proposal would not have been passed without some backing - backing that Roanoke College did not necessarily have. To drum up support for the proposal, Roanoke College announced a fundraiser, seeking $1.2 million by June 1st to demonstrate alumni and donor support for bringing football back to campus.
According to Blair, they absolutely blew those expectations out of the water. “We started [the fundraiser] right after the board passed the resolution in April. We raised $1.3 Million in just 35 days. We were going for $1.2 million in two months.”
If raising over $1 million in just over a month shows how much the community is excited about the addition of football in Roanoke College, then they are over the moon.
Curtis Campbell, Athletic Director at Roanoke College, believes as much, as he says he has seen a very positive response from the Roanoke community. “I think the response has been great. Roanoke is a great place to have a D3 Football program. I think we’re in a region that supports football, and that has really good football programs.”
Campbell, as part of his job as the Athletic Director, is tasked with hiring the program’s first head football coach in over 80 years. The clock is ticking for Roanoke College, and the process has already started with numerous candidates, according to Campbell.
“We have started the [head coach hiring] process … As of today we have 101 applicants for the position.”
Campbell’s vision for the program’s initial head football coach is a very clear one, as he needs the right person to build the program from the ground up. “Mainly, we want somebody who is willing and knows what is involved in starting a football program from scratch. We’re also really looking for somebody good with the Xs & Os [of football].”
Campbell concluded that he hopes to have someone in the position by the end of November.
The Roanoke Maroons football team will start playing in Division 3 of the NCAA, competing in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, and holding their events in Salem Stadium, starting in the 2025-26 Football season.