In January 2017, the Board of Trustees of Northland College voted to contract with Kurt Patberg of Athletics Staffing & Consultants to assess the athletic program at Northland and the feasibility of adding sports with an emphasis on assessing the potential positive or negative impact of football as a sponsored intercollegiate sport. This assessment included an analysis of the admissions, recruiting, and retention process in athletics as well as an in-depth review of the feasibility of the sport of football as a sponsored sport. This assessment began early in March 2017 and was delivered in July 2017 and included several visits to campus by ASC including a meeting with the Board of Trustees in early June.
ASC conducted a thorough and unbiased analysis of the athletic program at Northland and the role it plays in building enrollment and contributing to the vibrancy of life on campus and the greater community. This analysis included a rigorous economic analysis of the start-up, operating costs, facilities, staff needs, and time required to launch football. As part of this process, ASC relied on the Center for Rural Communities (CRC) to survey the Northland community—students, faculty, staff, coaches, and alumni. Their polling included questionnaires from campus constituencies and phone interviews with at least 600 alumni, from various generations, of the same nature and quality as that of polls completed this past year on concentrated animal feeding operations, drinking water, and local food. In July 2017, the Northland College Board of Trustees agreed to suspend a permanent decision on the addition of the sport of football to a later date.