FLORENCE — University of North Alabama Athletic Director Mark Linder said Monday a work group could have a report on a proposed football stadium completed by the middle of this month.

Speaking to the Florence Rotary Club, Linder said the group will provide the report to UNA President Ken Kitts.

"I think you'll see it being released to the public at some point in time," he said.

Linder said he is not a member of the group, but serves as a liaison and has been impressed by its work.

"They answered the questions that were before them and really had good interaction," he said. "I'm excited for the report to be released."

During a question-and-answer session, two Rotarians suggested Cox Creek Parkway locations for the stadium. There also is a movement to have it on campus, and there is an illustration that shows a stadium at the existing Mike Lane Field where UNA's baseball team plays.

UNA is considering moving the baseball stadium to a location next to the university's softball and beach volleyball fields and turning the location to a spring sports complex. That still is in the discussion phase.

Linder said the work group came from a student initiative. The Student Government Association sent out a survey to students that included a question regarding whether there is interest in having a new stadium.

"There were almost 1,200 surveys that were returned to the SGA," Linder said. "That is a really high amount. They normally get about 600 to 700 surveys returned."

He said 70 percent of students said they want UNA to look into building a new stadium. Fifteen percent said they oppose it, and 15 percent had no opinion on it.

"It was such an overwhelming response, they sent a resolution to Dr. Kitts saying we would like you to create a work group to study this," Linder said. "Obviously, there is some energy around this concept."

Linder also spoke on the issue of funding at UNA, saying the university is 14th out of 14 state colleges in Alabama in receiving state funding.

He said that is a reason behind UNA's Project 208.

"Funding for higher education is an exercise of political power and has no basis on performance," Linder said. "The reason we call it 208 is we are 208 miles away from Montgomery where they make this decision."

He said it would take some $9 million annually in state funding for UNA to move up to 13th place and $23 million to $24 million annually to reach the middle of the pack.

Linder said it is important for the community to know those numbers.

"We need you to have this information so that you can be our voice," he said.

This is occurring at a time when UNA's brand is being expanded due to its involvement in Division I. The university just completed its inaugural year of moving up from Division II and saw some success.

Nine of the university's 13 teams that competed in the Atlantic Sun Conference qualified for ASUN postseason play, Linder said.

The football team started its season by defeating defending Big Sky champions Southern Utah. The soccer team started out 5-0 and made it to the ASUN Championship game. The women's basketball team beat Vanderbilt, while the baseball team upset Ole Miss. Pitchers with the softball team threw two no-hitters, and the student-athletes in all sports had an average grade-point average of 3.18, he said.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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