Football club supports Villanova moving up to Division I-A

Posted: March 30, 2011

Cardinal O'Hara graduate Art Condodina was a member of Andy Talley's first recruiting class when Villanova re-established its football program at the Division I-AA level in the mid-1980s. Now he's president of the Villanova Football Club.

On April 12, after a regularly scheduled meeting, the university's Board of Trustees is scheduled to announce its decision on whether the school will accept an invitation to join the Big East for football, the conference it has competed in for all other sports for the last 3 decades, and move up to Division I-A.

The Wildcats are coming off a 3-year run in which they reached the national quarterfinals in 2008, won the championship in 2009 and lost in the semifinals last December. And while Condodina's group favors the move, it wants to see the program continue to do good things regardless of what the trustees determine is the best fit going forward.

"We have sent a letter to the board, last week, voicing our support for the decision," Condodina said. "But our stance is, we're trying not to get too politically involved. We do endorse the move, although what's more important is we endorse the overall success of the football program, whether the decision is I-A or I-AA.

"Right now, I think, from an administrative perspective, the major concern is financial, especially given the economic climate we're in. If you make that big of an investment, are you going to be able to fulfill the back end of it? I know one of the considerations will be that this move could solve some of those [support] problems, giving the school greater visibility from a national perspective.

"We're not involved in the decision, nor do we have access to all the information that the people making the decision have. But we stand ready and willing to make the necessary financial commitment, rally the troops, so to speak, in terms of giving [more donations]. But we don't want to say it's all or nothing with this. Our main concern is success."

Aside from increased expenditures (and the possiblity of increased revenues), probably the biggest area of concern is the stadium issue. At the moment the most logical solution is PPL Park, the soccer stadium in Chester for the Union that seats 18,500 (with the possibility of additional capacity for football). Yet there has been speculation that the Big East and some of its schools might not be "comfortable" with that solution for a number of reasons, though you'd think that would have been addressed when the invitation was extended.

Anyway . . .

"I'm hearing things both ways, to be honest," Condodina said. "Quite frankly, I haven't really heard a ton of stuff. I hope [the stadium] doesn't stand in the way of the ultimate decision. That would be a shame. You think there has to be an answer for that . . .

"The school's done a lot of work, went above and beyond to engage in phone surveys, written surveys, to get feedback on the level of support from alumni. Obviously, there would have to be a step up, from a financial standpoint. I think they were very, very thorough. We just have to see what comes from it.

"We have a strong feeling we can be successful at the next level, that it would be beneficial to the university at large. Again, I don't have access to the information that would allow us to make an on-the-record opinion of that. I have full faith and confidence in the people responsible for doing that. I think it would be in the best interests of promoting the football program and everything we have to offer as a university. That could be very positive."

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