BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Football) – Florida Tech announced today that its football program will make its debut in the Fall of 2013 as a member of the Gulf South Conference.
“We are ecstatic to join the Gulf South Conference as a football-only member,” President Anthony J. Catanese said. “Our university is excited about bringing NCAA Division II football to the Melbourne community. I’d like to thank GSC Commissioner Nathan Salant, the expansion committee and executive committee for this opportunity.”
The GSC Board of Directors voted 7-0 in favor of admitting Florida Tech as a football-only affiliate member to begin play in the Fall of 2013 after receiving unanimous affirmative recommendations from the league’s Expansion and Executive Committees.
“We could not be more excited about the addition of yet another football team,” Salant said. “Coupled with last night’s announcement that West Florida will start football, the previous addition of Shorter University and the University of New Orleans’ commitment to begin playing football by 2015, we’ve taken giant strides in a very short period of time.”
“This is an exciting time in the history of our university,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer T. Dwayne McCay said. “Our alumni, faculty, staff and students are ready to embrace and support the football program.”
The Gulf South Conference has a rich football history dating back to its inaugural season in 1971. In the last 24 years, a GSC member has won 10 national championships and finished as national runner-up six times.
“FIT brings us a terrific academic institution and gives us a marketing stronghold in central Florida,” Salant continued. “There is tremendous enthusiasm for this move in their community, and our TV network should also grow as a result because we believe the local cable companies will want to join our GSC-TV LIVE platform. For the current GSC schools, a trip to Florida every other year, with Disney on one side and Cape Canaveral on the other, is a great recruiting tool, while for FIT, stepping into a nationally prestigious league with a TV network of more than 10,500,000 households is invaluable.”
Florida Tech is the GSC’s first-ever football-only member. It will join Delta State University, University of North Alabama, Valdosta State University, University of West Alabama and University of West Georgia in the football league.
“Joining the Gulf South Conference at this time was an important stage in the development of our program,” Director of Football Operations John Thomas said. “As a staff, we can now begin focusing on our schedule, which will include a full slate of conference and non-conference games.”
In May, Florida Tech unveiled its first-ever football recruiting class. It features over 40 student-athletes from all over the country, including a number of recruits from the Space Coast. They will help form the first Division II football program in the state of Florida.
“Our coaching staff and players are looking forward to the challenge of competing in the Gulf South Conference,” Head Coach Steve Englehart said. “We know that each week we’ll be lining up against a strong, competitive team. As competitors, we’re anxious to face that challenge with the help of our community and fans.”
The Panthers will continue to compete in all 16 of the Sunshine State Conference’s sponsored sports.
“It is with tremendous enthusiasm that I welcome Florida Institute of Technology to affiliate membership for football in the Gulf South Conference,” said GSC Board Chair Dr. William Cale, President of the University of North Alabama. “It is without doubt that they are building a quality football program with the intention of competing successfully in the GSC. We in the Gulf South Conference look forward to new friendships and great rivalries in the very near future.”