NOTE ABOUT THE LIVESTREAM: President Guy Bailey began the livestream. Next to talk was Maggie Hinojosa, senior vice president for strategic enrollment and student affairs, discussing about what is the future of the UTRGV spirit program. Third was UTRGV Athletic Director Chasse Conque.
EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — University of Texas Rio Grande Valley opened Friday’s briefing on the launch of new programs by saying it was a big day for the university — which will include football, marching bands and an increase in student housing.
A day after the UT System’s Board of Regents huddled in Austin and approved a game plan to bring football to the school, Bailey talked about how the development was an academic initiative that meant more than just sports. He spoke about the future marching band, which will draw students from programs across the university’s lineup of majors of study.
‘Mr. Rally the Valley’ talks football
“Who’s ready for some college football in the RGV?” asked UTRGV Athletic Director Chasse Conque as he first took the podium, as he was introduced as “Mr. Rally the Valley, himself.”
The UT System regents’ approval of increases to the Intercollegiate Athletic Fees paid by students means the addition of other programs at UTRGV, including a women’s swimming and diving team, a marching band and additions to the school’s spirit programs.
The progress to Friday’s announcement began with a feasibility study in 2017, but officials then didn’t think it was the right time to launch a football program then, Conque said. In August 2021, a proposal lead to a student referendum vote in November 2021 to increase fees to make a football program possible. In 2022, university officials now feel it’s time for football in the years ahead, Conque said.
“This is about community. This about bringing everyone together. It’s about celebrating together,” Conque said.
So what’s head?
“The real works begins now,” Conque said. “We are on track.”
A football coach will be hired “in the coming months,” the athletic director said.
Then, the university will have a practice year for football in 2024. Football will begin its first officials season in the fall of 2025, giving the program time to grow a team through two recruiting classes, Conque said.
An on-campus practice facility is also needed, Conque said.
“It’s an exciting time, we say that all the time,” Conque said, talking about great milestones ahead. “Every few months gives us something to celebrate.”
Recruiting the Valley’s best musicians
With plenty to talk about Friday morning at the media briefing Edinburg campus, Bailey received applause as he ticked off details about the football program and marching band, and the status of where school officials are in the launch toward recruiting “the Valley’s best musicians,” which will include stipends and more.
“We don’t want the best musicians in the Valley going somewhere else,” Bailey said. “We want them right here.”
There will be plural marching bands, Bailey stressed, “because we are going to have them at both campuses.”
UTRGV is planning a housing growth
Maggie Hinojosa, senior vice president for strategic enrollment and student affairs, says the university wants students living on the campus and will be undertaking housing construction for students at the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses.
Swimming and diving
The university’s swimming and diving program is ahead of schedule, Conque said, and asked for applause for Pharr’s new multi-million-dollar natatorium, which will be useful for the university’s future athletics program.
“We will start women’s swimming and driving in fall 2024,” Conque said.
A leader for the swimming and diving program will likely be hired in the summer of 2023, according to Conque.
UTRGV is already set to host the Western Athletic Conference swimming and diving championship in February.
“That’s going to put a great spotlight on that program,” Conque said. “It’s going to be able to feature not only our region, but it’s going to help us as we build our women’s swimming and diving program.”
What did we already know about UTRGV football?
Talk about adding a football program is no surprise. Last year, UTRGV revealed details about the push to bring gridiron excitement to the Valley.
As for where the team will play, the university will not be building a new stadium, the university told ValleyCentral in November 2021. However, UTRGV will build practice facilities for the team on campus. HEB Park in Edinburg, and Sams Memorial Stadium in Brownsville were being looked at as prospective stadiums for the team to play in on game days.
Conque said Friday that the university will “deepen our discussions” about using HEB Park and Sams Memorial Stadium.
What division will UTRGV be playing in?
UTRGV is a Division I school in the Western Athletic Conference, where UTRGV has been one of three schools still without a football program.