PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - Since bringing football back in the year 2000, Louisiana College has been a hidden gem sitting as the only Division III school in the state.
Despite that, since 2015, LC has finished with a combined record of 18-32. To better understand that, you'd have to know former head coach Dennis Dunn.
"I came in under the presumption that we (the school) were ready to make a commitment to Louisiana College football and do it right,” former head coach Dennis Dunn said. “We did see some movement in those early years."
Dunn would take over the program in 2005 serving as Athletic Director and Head Coach. In that time, a 3-phase plan would begin and would pick up steam in 2008 when LC added an artificial turf field to their campus.
“We were getting recruits that probably should not have been coming to a Division III school,” Dunn said. “We had an offensive lineman that committed to us that still plays in the NFL today. I don't know if it's what they saw facility wise, but we had drawings and things that we were showing them and saying 'this is what you're coming to'”.
Once phase one was complete, no real change has happened. That brings us to the question of why.
“Whatever you want to call it, lack of resources, commitment or whatever it is, you're still having to go and compete against people that have made that commitment,” Dunn said.
Fast-forward things to the present day, Justin Charles is the head coach and has been around the program dating back to his time as a player (2000-2004).
“I have not seen any improvements over the last few years,” Charles said. “We try our best to make our locker room look better. We did a few small facility upgrades to keep it nice and fresh for the kids but after a while, that gets old.”
With schools like East Texas Baptist and Mary Hardin-Baylor having state of the art facilities, recruiting and retention of players has become an uphill battle.
“Football is the doormat,” Charles said. “That's what people are going to look at first. It has made it tough because kids want the best that they possibly can. In this day and age, I've come to find out that kids don't care about how much it cost to go to school. It's about what am I getting out of what I'm paying.”
From a money standpoint, LC's football program has a budget of $203,000. Out of that budget alone, they are spending around $11,000 on just portable bathrooms at the stadium. To go along with paying for road games including hotels and traveling, the program is essential making no money.
“We could be hosting football jamborees here, along with other sports,” Charles said. “I've been contacted by John Curtis and West Monroe, and they wanted to meet in Central Louisiana at our place. They asked 'can we play at your place' and I would have to tell them that I don't have the capacity to hold you guys.”
So, how has the school worked to raise money for the facility needs of the program?
“I have already asked several people to give significant money to do that, in order to help us with our facilities,” Louisiana College President Rick Brewer said. “Without a doubt, facilities are important, at any level, but we have to raise the resources to do it.”
With an updated plan that would require a 7-phase project, it would cost anywhere from $8.3 to $11.3 million dollars to rebuild a new facility. Not to mention, there is the possibility of making a public-private partnership happen between the school board and Louisiana College, in the same way, that New Orleans uses Tadd Gormley Stadium. This brings about another question, why aren't people giving?
“I think we have a tremendous mission and vision,” Brewer said. “We have great people and a great purpose. I can't imagine why people wouldn't want our athletics to thrive.”
One thing that is clear, there is a need for change and Louisiana College needs and wants help.
“If it's an arm's race, you better make a commitment on finding out what I need to do to get in the race, or get out of the race,” Dunn said.
“Moving forward, it's our desire to address those issues as the funds become available,” Brewer said.
“It's (money) going to go towards our kids, towards this institution and if you give to LC football, we will be at the next level in our division,” Charles said.
To help with donations or to get more information about the Wildcat Club, you can visit this website.
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