Jacksonville University Shuts Down Its Football Program
Hundreds of College Football Players are out of a team , as Jacksonville University issued a stunning Tuesday morning announcement stating it will no longer play football and will discontinue its Division I program, effective immediately.
The university cited “a data-driven analysis” as the reason for the major changes to the athletics program. The Dolphins finished 3-9 this year, wrapping up their season with a 47-28 loss to San Diego on Nov. 23.
The university will offer full-tuition scholarships to every football student-athlete who chooses to stay at JU until graduation and will honor the employment agreements for all football coaches.
“This was a difficult decision,” athletic director Alex Ricker-Gilbert said in a release announcing the change. “Our student-athletes and coaches in the football program are talented, tenacious and hard working. We respect them immensely. Reinvesting these resources into our other Division I programs better positions us to enhance the experience for all 450 student-athletes.”
JU’s football program debuted in 1998. While it played under the Division I umbrella, it used the framework of Division III to fill its roster out and didn’t provide players scholarships for athletic purposes.
The Dolphins had three coaches in their history, Steve Gilbert, Kerwin Bell and Ian Shields. JU enjoyed its most successful period under Bell, who spent nine seasons there and had a 66-35 record before leaving after the 2015 season.
Under all three coaches, JU became a good landing spot for area high school players. Eleven former area players were on the roster this season.
JU said it will offer enhanced resources to assist in job searches for the coaches and will have a team prepared to help student-athletes with decisions about their future, including financial aid, academic advising, student affairs and more.