CHICAGO – The Chicagoland area already has Division I football programs in Evanston, Dekalb and Champaign. Now, Chicago State is looking to bring another program within the city limits.
It’s been rumored for awhile, but the school officially announced Thursday that a 16-member exploratory committee will lead a study to conclude how feasible it is to add a football program. The goal is to reach a decision by the end of the school year, and if their findings lead to the school’s administration to move forward, CSU would aim to field a team by the Fall of 2025.
“Chicago is a great sports town, and the level of engagement and enthusiasm from our community, and especially our sports community, tells us we’re on the right track,” said Chicago State President Zaidwaynaka Scott, Esq. “So we hope this report will spark the level of activity and engagement we need, and the sponsorship we need for a program like this.”
“I think it’s very realistic,” added Howard Griffith, who grew up in the area, attended Julian High School and University of Illinois, and was a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos who’s a member of the committee.
“I think when you look at the landscape, what Chicago State is, the land that they actually have, the opportunities for young people here in Chicago, I think the opportunity is there. I hope at the end of this we can find a way that it comes to fruition.”
A football program would assist CSU in finding a permanent conference affiliation, as men’s basketball and all other sports except men’s soccer (Mid-American Conference) and men’s and women’s tennis (Horizon League) compete as Independents, making scheduling and travel a challenge. The Cougars would likely need to find a match at the FBS level and if a program is formed, the school hopes to build it with student-athletes from the surrounding area.
“We have to protect our own backyard. We can’t be afraid to recruit the best and the brightest right here in Chicago, on the south side,” said Athletic Director Dr. Monique Carroll. “We all know in sports, the transfer portal…who’s to say the number one football athlete in Chicago goes off and then needs to come back? And now, they’ll have a place to do it here on the south side.”
“I think one of the things about this committee is everyone’s excited about what Chicago State can be. They’re continuing to get better academically, enrollment continues to go up, which is all important. If we continue to expand athletics and give those opportunities to some young people that are in the region, in this city and community, I think we’re going to find that information out.”
Among those joining Griffith on the committee are two members of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears, Otis Wilson and Tom Thayer Simeon Head Football Coach Dante Culbreath, Chicagoan and longtime NBA referee Jim Capers.