Roanoke College logo. Courtesy of Roanoke College.

Who knows, over the past 80 years, how much attention has been given to reviving Roanoke College’s football program?

Not a lot, it would seem.

Who knows that the Maroons had a football program and that they were beaten by Catawba College 42-0 on Nov. 13, 1942, after which Roanoke College football was discontinued?

Roanoke had fielded a football team up to that point.

The Old Dominion Athletic Conference, founded in 1975, included such football-playing charter members as Emory & Henry, Hampden-Sydney and Washington and Lee, and Roanoke enjoyed success in men’s lacrosse, as well as women’s lacrosse when the ODAC began women’s play in 1982.

However, there was  little conversation about Roanoke adding football, even when Salem became a football mecca, with state championship teams at Salem High School, as well as nearby Glenvar, and a stadium that served as host to the Division III national championship.

A recent buzz has coincided with the selection this summer of Dr. Frank Shushok as Roanoke’s new president.

Shushok had spent the past 13 years at Virginia Tech, where, in his last role, he was the vice president of student affairs. Over that time, it would have been hard to miss the impact that football had created.

Before that, Shushok had served at Baylor, Ohio State and Maryland, schools where it would have been hard not to follow football.

When the issue of football as a possibility for Roanoke College comes up, it’s unlikely he turns the other way.

“There’s always been a group of alums who would like to see football at Roanoke,” Roanoke College athletic director Scott Allison wrote in a text. 

“At this point, we have yet to determine the depth of interest from alumni and those within our community. While that will be a consideration, there’s much more to study.”

Fellow ODAC members and especially the conference office would welcome such a development. 

“It’s certainly encouraging from our perspective,” ODAC commissioner Brad Bankston said this week.

“We’ve made a lot of adjustments, from a membership perspective, over the course of, probably, the past 10 years. Football scheduling has been a large part of the conversation because we’re having a hard time in Division III finding non-conference possibilities past Week 2.

“The league wants to find a way to give our student-athletes a complete season. Doing that is finding 10 games that make sense. That’s been difficult over the course of the last seven or eight years. Every time, we feel we’re in a great place as far as our scheduling, we always seem to find ourselves chasing our tail.”

Doug Doughty

Doug Doughty has been writing for more than 50 years starting as a high school student in Washington, D.C., through his undergraduate years at the University of Virginia, and 47 years at the Roanoke Times...