Division I school announces it is shutting down its football program
Jacksonville University, which has competed in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League since 1998, is shutting down its football program after 22 years, it announced on Tuesday.
JU went 3-9 and 2-8 in its final two seasons under coach Ian Shields. The Dolphins achieved most of their success in a high-powered passing game led by Kerwin Bell before he left the program with a 66-35 record after 9 seasons in 2015. Bell left for Valdosta State to be the head coach, and was most recently the offensive coordinator at South Florida.
The university said it arrived at this decision after it conducted “data-driven analysis” and had input from independent consultants and therefore would discontinue its Division I program, effective immediately.
The school is offering full-tuition scholarships to every underclassman football player who elects to stay at JU until graduation. The school will honor the employment contracts for Shields and his staff and offer “enhanced resources” to assist in their job search.
“This was a difficult decision,” said Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert. “Our student-athletes and coaches in the football program are talented, tenacious and hard working. We respect them immensely. Reinvesting these resources into our other Division I programs better positions us to enhance the experience for all 450 student-athletes.”