BOISE, Idaho -- The College of Idaho will revive a football program that was discontinued in the late 1970s, officials said Monday.
The board that governs the state's oldest private liberal arts college voted to reinstate football during a meeting last week. The decision was not made public until Monday, when college officials issued a statement shortly before holding a press conference on the Caldwell campus.
The program won't compete until the fall of 2014, school officials said.
The college hopes to tap into some of the enthusiasm surrounding the nearby Boise State football program. The idea is that the College of Idaho could attract students who wouldn't make the cut at Boise State or the University of Idaho in Moscow, but could thrive at an NAIA college.
Those athletes are now going to places like Carroll College in Montana and Willamette University in Oregon, according to College of Idaho athletic director Marty Holly. He'd like to see those students stay closer to home so their families can see them play.
"There are many smart, young student-athletes who want to play football and would love a chance to play near their families and get an education that will set them up for a lifetime of success," Holly said in the school's statement.
Holly and College of Idaho President Marv Henberg plan to meet with Frontier Conference officials next month. The college is pursuing an associate membership with the conference, where the Coyotes would compete in football only.
The proposal to resurrect the football program was touted as a way to boost enrollment, fundraising and the school's profile. The college plans to immediately launch a fundraising campaign to help with the startup costs.
"We believe that football is going to be a shot of adrenaline for The College of Idaho and for the Treasure Valley," Henberg said.
The college would need a new locker room facility, with coaching offices and a weight room. School officials hope to partner with Caldwell to upgrade the city-owned Simplot Stadium, which was built in 1966 and seats less than 6,000.
The college's original program started in 1917 and produced four NFL players. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge also played for the Coyotes, who were 225-221 during the program's history.
The latest proposal to bring back the football program was met with resistance from some students who think the violence of the game won't mix well with a liberal arts college that prides itself on academics. The college has produced six Rhodes Scholars and is ranked among the nation's 200 best liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. It has about 1,000 students who pay an average of $22,000 a year in tuition.