AUSTIN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Get ready for collegiate football, Rio Grande Valley.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s game plan to bring a football program to the Valley was approved Thursday by the UT System’s Board of Regents, who voted to allow an increase in the Intercollegiate Athletic Fee.

The Academic Affairs Action Committee recommended the regents approve a plan presented by UTRGV President Guy Bailey, who had secured a student referendum in favor of the fee increase, according to Vice Chair James Weaver.

The board approved the request unanimously.

A year ago, UTRGV students voted in November to support an increase in the Intercollegiate Athletics Fee in order to create programs for football, women’s swimming and diving, marching band, and expanded spirit programs. The referendum supported an increase in that fee from $15 per credit hour to $26.25 per credit hour.

Each student would pay as much as $315 per semester, as the fee caps out at 12 credit hours per semester.

Student turnout was less than 18% for that semester’s vote, and the increase was favored by about 60% of the 5,784 students who voted.

With Thursday’s approval from the regents, the increase will be reflected in billing statements starting with student registrations for the 2023-2024 academic year.

“The establishment of a football team is viewed as foundational to the University’s next phase of development, will help UT Rio Grande valley retain the most talented students within the region, and will enhance the university experience for its students community,” stated comments in the board’s meeting documents.”