UT Tyler applies for Division II status, could bring college football to Tyler

Published: Jan. 10, 2018 at 3:41 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2018 at 6:19 PM CST
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Locals have long joked about UT Tyler’s football team being undefeated, but that could become a reality should an application to move into Division II be approved. 
Founded in 1971 as Tyler State College, a football team has never existed at the school, hence the undefeated joke. 
On Wednesday, The University of Texas at Tyler President Michael Tidwell told Tyler City Council that the university is preparing an application for Division II status, and if approved, the university could choose to pursue creating a college football program, among other sports. 
"We hope at some point in the future that we will be able to bring football to UT Tyler," says Tidwell.
Tidwell added that the university would only do so if they reached division two status.
"Often times when you have a strong football program the visibility that is gained from that is equal to the investment that you make in that kind of program," says Tidwell.  "Division I and Division II are very visible conferences."
Beverly Golden, university public relations officer at UT Tyler, said the university is not pursuing a football program at this time. 
The subject came up during a scheduled presentation about the school’s strategic plan for the future that highlighted enrollment growth, after Tidwell announced the application for Division II.
Enrollment in Tyler has topped 10,000 students, with several hundred enrolled at satellite campuses in Longview, Palestine and Houston. 
“UT Tyler is no longer just a commuter college,” Tidwell said.
On average, decisions on applications take about 18 months. Tidwell said the application is due in February.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The university later issued this statement:

"Statement regarding NCAA Div II: Through the process of developing a university strategic plan earlier this year, The University of Texas at Tyler leadership began to consider if moving to NCAA Division II could play a role in advancing the university mission. The student engagement and brand value of a robust athletic program being evident, President Michael Tidwell asked Vice President of Student Affairs and Athletic Director Howard Patterson to research the viability of NCAA Division II membership. After thoroughly vetting the idea with internal research and an outside expert consultant, the university is currently preparing an application for Division II membership. The university does not have plans to add a football team at this time."

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