Football Returns: The Mars Hill College Board of Trustees Provides New Support To Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

Written by: Patrick Cash

May 4, 1968: In the spring of 1968, the Mars Hill College Board of Trustees executive committee approved a proposal aimed to enhance and improve the intercollegiate athletic programs at the college. By approving the proposal brought before them, the Board of Trustees executive committee paved the way for Mars Hill College to re-enter into intercollegiate football field in the 1969-1970 academic year. The approved plan also provided additional support for the expansion of minor sports, an extensive increase in support for the basketball programs through scholarship funds and new coaches, helped increase the intercollegiate athletic budget, and provided the means to hire additional athletic personnel. This large approved plan by the Board of Trustees executive committee was the final step in a long process that aimed at bringing a new athletic program to Mars Hill College.

Following the announcement of approved plan, the Mars Hill College Hilltop sat down and discussed the outcome with college president, Dr. Fred Bentley. Dr. Bentley was quoted as saying, “I believe this will usher in a new and more productive day for the college in its athletic program. Now that we have the proper means for supporting out athletic program congruous with our academic responsibility we are expecting exciting and productive results for both our students and the public.”

Under the new approved plan, the athletic program operated on a budget outside the academic budget. Financial support for student athletics would derive from the students themselves paying an athletic fee as well as the development of the “M” Club scholarship program. Along with the changes made to the football and basketball programs, the Board of Trustees executive committee also heavily recommended that swimming be added to the college’s athletic teams as a minor sport. According to Bentley, this vote and recommendations by the Trustees represented a realistic appraisal of the future of intercollegiate athletics at Mars Hill College and fit his vision of a ten-year growth period for the institution.

In the 1969 Laurel, the student body voiced their support for the return of MHC football with this photo. The accompanying caption reads, “Symbolic of the situation during 1968-69 is the scene of energetic cheerleaders performing in an empty stadium. Without the sport there was a saddening hush over a still nearly new stadium; without it the challenge og trying to create and maintain school spirit was overwhelming and discouraging. Eager hearts await its return in’69.”

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