A MOCK-UP OF a potential future CSU football helmet. Photo Credit: Chicago State University
In a recent announcement, the Chicago State University (CSU) Cougars revealed key members of their new sports exploratory committee who will assist in evaluating the potential impact of adding a Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) program, and additional women’s sports teams, to the existing roster of university athletics.
According to Chicago State University, the exploratory committee is a combination of advisory and working group members, and includes a cross-section of strategic partners well versed in the Chicago sports landscape.
The group features members whose resumés include four Super Bowl Championships, two former Chicago Bears, local Chicago area high school football coaches, multiple Chicago business leaders and non-profit directors, along with key CSU faculty, staff and students.
CSU first shared the news of the exploratory committee in early January. The committee is expected to share its findings with CSU President Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott by the end of the spring 2023 semester. If the recommendation is approved, football and other programming could start as soon as fall 2025 and would make Chicago State the only Division I football program on the South Side of Chicago.
“We’re excited to welcome this robust group of leaders to serve on our exploratory committee. The University is grateful for their commitment to the success of our campus, the greater South Side community, and Chicago State’s student athletes,” said President Scott.
“In selecting a wide-range of local sports professionals, community leaders, and experts, Chicago State continues to focus on our strategic goals of elevating our students’ experience and bringing substantial economic development
opportunities to our community.”
Expanding athletic offerings at the university has been an ongoing topic of discussion as part of the larger campus growth goals. In the fall of 2021, CSU administrators worked closely with Collegiate Consulting, a consulting company focused exclusively on the collegiate marketplace, to examine the feasibility of adding a football program. The report led to the creation of the exploratory committee and the official first steps down the path of expansion.
“The potential to bring a Division I football program here to CSU and increase the number of women’s sports offerings is not only an exciting step forward for the current and future student body, but for the entire surrounding community,” said Dr. Monique Carroll, CSU’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“The time is now to usher in the next era of Chicago State Athletics, and we could not be more grateful for the exploratory committee to help us take these critical steps forward in evolving our programming.”
Currently, CSU Athletics is comprised of 15 intercollegiate teams involving more than 150 student athletes who compete in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, and volleyball.
The list of advisory and working group committee members (as of January 26, 2023) is as follows:
Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director of Metropolitan Peace Initiatives; former NFL player James Capers; current NBA official Dante Culbreath; Simeon High School football coach Tai Duncan; Ricardo Estrada, CEO of Metropolitan Family Services.
Additional advisors, Howard Griffith, two-time NFL Super Bowl Champion, Illinois All-American, and current Big Ten Network analyst; Michael Holmes, CSU Vice President for Administrative Services; Larry Huggins, organizing member of the Chicago Football Classic; Dr. June Price-Shingles, CSU Faculty Athletic Representative; Melanie Silas, executive director of the CSU Foundation; Essence Smart, CSU Student Board of Trustees representative; Rhonda Smith, CSU Director of Financial Aid; Cory Thames, CSU Board of Trustees Representative; Tom Thayer, member of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl team and current Bears radio analyst; Vada Williams, CSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative; and Otis Wilson, member of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl team.
For more information on the exploratory committee, potential sponsorship opportunities, or upcoming Chicago State Athletics schedules, visit GoCSUCougars.com.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.