Virginia University of Lynchburg plans to launch a football program this fall, more than a half-century after disbanding the team in 1954. The team will begin practice on Aug. 1 and play its first game against North Carolina A&T State University on Sept. 3.
The revival of the football program is part of a large-scale effort to bring back sports to Lynchburg’s only historically black college. This year, VUL will launch a total of 13 men’s and women’s sports teams.

“The time is ripe to bring it back,” said Willard Bailey, head football coach and director of athletics at VUL. “Not just football but the entire arena of intercollegiate athletics … Our students are calling for more than a library, a good meal and a classroom.”

VUL president Ralph Reavis spearheaded the effort to revive the sports program in response to demand from students, alumni and community members, Bailey said. The move coincides with an enrollment surge and the addition of a new dormitory on campus. The college expects an enrollment of more than 800 students this fall, up from about 550 last year.

Reavis could not be reached for an interview Friday.

The college will compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, a national conference comprised primarily of smaller institutions. The long-range goal is to join the NCAA, Bailey said. On the men’s side, VUL will field teams in football, cross country, basketball, indoor and outdoor track, and baseball. Women will compete in volleyball, basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track, softball and bowling.

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