Georgetown's decision to move its football team to the Patriot League in 2001 eventually will result in the university spending several hundred thousand dollars per year more on the sport than it is now, Athletic Director Joe Lang said yesterday.
The increase primarily will come from new spending on financial aid for players and on salaries and benefits for coaches.
"We'll do this in a very measured way . . . by growing ourselves to fund the program the way we need to fund it to be competitive," Lang said during a news conference at which he also announced that Coach Bob Benson's contract has been extended for five years, through the 2005 season.
Georgetown's football team has been a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference since 1993, and will remain with that league through the upcoming season. The MAAC prohibits athletic scholarships for football players and allows its schools to pay the salary of only the head coach and one assistant.
The Patriot League allows up to six full-time assistants. It also allows preferential packaging of financial assistance for football players. Schools cannot provide outright athletic scholarships to football players, but athletic departments can assume responsibility for part of the need-based financial aid packages that are allowed. That means they can turn portions of the packages that otherwise would be in the form of loans or work-study employment into a grant. Unlike loans, grants are not repaid.
Lang said Georgetown's athletic department will put $50,000 toward preferential packaging for the 2001 season and will increase that funding by $50,000 per year until it reaches $200,000 per year. He also said full-time assistant coaches will be added to the program gradually over the next five years.
The move to the Patriot League also will increase Georgetown's level of competition and provide a greater chance for advancing to the Division I-AA playoffs. The Patriot League champion receives an automatic bid to the playoffs, and in each of the past two seasons, the league also has had an at-large representative in the 16-team tournament.
Lang said that in addition to the conference schedule, which will involve Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Towson, Georgetown hopes to play Ivy League schools.
"Since I got the job, joining the Patriot League has been a goal, really a dream for everyone associated with the program," Benson said. "It is just a perfect fit."
Georgetown plays its home games at Kehoe Field. With its 2,400-seat capacity, Kehoe would be the smallest stadium in the Patriot League. Lang said the school does not plan to expand the stadium, but may increase the capacity temporarily. He also said that as part of the university's long-term master plan, a multisport complex incorporating a football, lacrosse and soccer field is under consideration.