Wayland Baptist reinstates football program

March 31, 2010

Plainview, Texas -  For the first time in over 70 years, Wayland Baptist University will field an intercollegiate football team beginning in the fall of 2012.  WBU President Dr. Paul Armes, along with other members of the administration and Director of Athletics Dr. Greg Feris, made the announcement at a press conference today.

“We are thrilled about the return of football to Wayland Baptist University after 72 years,” said Armes.  “Our Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and students are all strongly in support of this endeavor.  Campus spirit and atmosphere will be positively enhanced, and our community will be able to see collegiate football played locally again.

“Drs. (Claude) Lusk and Feris have worked to make this journey a reality, and I am grateful for their efforts.  This is truly a special and significant moment in the life of WBU, and we are excited about the future and all of its possibilities.”

The WBU football program will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Central States Football League (CSFL).  Seven teams currently make up the CSFL, including two Sooner Athletic Conference members, Southern Nazarene University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.  Other CSFL members are Bacone College, Langston University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Texas College and Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

According to Feris and Lusk, who is VP of Enrollment Management, the decision to reinstate football came after almost three years of study.

“We believe this is not only a sound athletic decision, but a good business decision for the university,” Feris said.  “We found there was ample opportunity to compete on both the regional and national levels; that there were large numbers of potential college athletes that were not being given the opportunity to compete; and that we could use football to strengthen enrollment as well as adding an element of excitement and energy to the university as a whole.”

“Our research with like institutions indicated consistent success with enrollment growth and increased school spirit in association with football programs,” Lusk added in support.  “Our student leadership, staff directors and academic deans all support the addition of football.”

Search for a head coach will begin this fall, and Feris says he hopes to have someone in place after the first of the year. (2011).

“We will be recruiting a group of young men that we are referring to as our ‘leadership class’ to be on campus by the fall of 2011.  This group will do everything that football players normally do in the fall with the exception of playing other schools.  The fall of 2012 will be our first competitive year, and we will play a full CSFL schedule.  By the second competitive year of the program, we will have the maximum scholarships allowed by the NAIA (24).”

The new WBU team will practice on the fields located to the west of Hilliard Field.  Additional practice fields are set to be built to the east of Hilliard, as well.  Games are tentatively scheduled to be played at Plainview High School’s Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium.

The addition of football will bring the number of WBU intercollegiate athletic programs to 18.  In the past year, Wayland has introduced a new men’s soccer program, which began competing in the fall of 2009, and has announced the addition of men’s and women’s wrestling and a competitive cheer and dance program beginning in the fall of 2010.

A Few Football Facts from the Early Days at Wayland Baptist:

  • Football was played at Wayland during its earliest decades.  The school was a junior college in its early years and the mascot was the Jackrabbit.
  • Texas Tech defeated Wayland 120-0 during the 1925 season. 
  • E.W. “Jack” Jackson, a star player on the teams of the late 20’s who averaged five yards a carry from the fullback position, was inducted into the WBU Athletic Hall of Honor in 1995.  He remains the only football player in the Hall.
  • The 1928 Jackrabbits went 7-1-1.
  • The 1929 Jackrabbits compiled a 4-3-1 record.  One loss was to the College of the Mines (now the University of Texas at El Paso) during the first night football game ever played by two Texas teams.
  • In 1930, the Jackrabbits went 8-1-1.  One of those victories was a 6-0 decision over Texas Tech.
  • Football at Wayland was disbanded shortly thereafter because of the depression, but was reinstated in 1936-37.
  • The last football game played by a Wayland team came on November 8, 1940.  The Jackrabbits lost to Decatur Baptist College, 32-0.  Ernest Craigo, a 1993 Athletic Hall of Honor inductee, was the coach.  The team finished with a record of 1-5-1.