Charlotte 49ers’ fans demand changes to athletics

After five seasons, UNC Charlotte students and alumni begin to lose hope for football program

| November 30, 2017

Students chalked the university with #FreeJudyRose. Photo courtesy of @Barstool49ers

Four years ago, the first Charlotte football team walked out onto the field of the Jerry Richardson Stadium. The team took the win, 52-7, against the Campbell Camels. A sea of green in the stadium raved with each touchdown. At that inaugural game, hopes were high for the Charlotte 49ers but they didn’t last long.

The team finished with a 5-6 season, then 5-6 the following year, 2-10 in 2015 and 4-8 in 2016.

For those years, 49er fans gave the excuses: They’re new. Charlotte football will get better. Give it a few years. They’re doing well for a new program.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the team finished with a 1-11 season, with a score of 25-24 on their sole win. The student body had a different reaction than the previous, excusable seasons. They’re demanding change.

Many fans expected head coach Brad Lambert’s six-years with the 49ers to come to an end but on Nov. 27, Director of Athletics Judy Rose and Chancellor Philip L. Dubois announced that Lambert would be retained.

The hashtags #FireJudyRose and #FireLambert have gone viral on Twitter, the campus has been chalked demanding her release and an alumnus paid $1,800 to fly a banner reading “Fire Judy Rose! Help wanted new A.D. needed!” in the sky before a home game on Oct. 21.

Rose started her role as Director of Athletics in 1990, making history as the first woman to head a Division I athletics program. She has played such a key role in Charlotte Athletics that the football center was named the Judy W. Rose Football Center. However, some fans are using this legacy against her.

“Given Judy’s glass-ceiling shattering appointment to an AD position as a female in the early ’90s, the fact that she has never been given the opportunity to move up to a school in the ACC, SEC, or BIG 10, or other power conferences as they come and go, speaks volumes,” said Alumnus Job Fickett.

Students pay an $824 athletic fee each year. The money helps fund maintenance and operation of athletic facilities and salaries, including Rose’s $300,000 a year. UNC Charlotte students pay more for athletics than any other school in the UNC system.

“For years, Judy Rose has let our basketball program sink to irrelevance and has mismanaged our young football program. Paying the highest student fees, we as students are fed up. We are taking a stand,” said Sophomore Grace Fendrick.

Protesters are wondering if their money is being wasted. A low percentage of students attend the games. During the football team’s fourth season in 2016, the highest attendance was their first home game against Elon with 4,648 tickets used, roughly 16 percent of the university’s population.

Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, quarterbacks coach Jeff Mullen and receivers coach Damien Gary have been fired. Former offensive coordinator Greg Adkins will now coach the offensive line and running backs. Lambert will be responsible for filling coaching voids.

“This has been a profoundly disappointing season for our team, department and fans,” Rose said in a statement. “We have to win games, plain and simple. With that said, coach Lambert and I have been in constant communication throughout this season. Coach Lambert is fully invested in making necessary changes to strengthen our program.”

Courtesy of @49Shades_Green

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Category:Campus, News

Alexandria Sands

Alexandria is the News Editor for the Niner Times. She is a junior Communications major with a double minor in Journalism and Film. Alexandria has reported and taken photographs for The State Port Pilot, The Gaston Gazette and The Shelby Star. She is a graduate of the Academy of Information Technology within Apex High School. You can reach Alexandria at news@ninertimes.com or Twitter.com/alexsands_.

Comments (14)

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  1. Tom Michael says:

    Thanks for the article Alexandria. It’s great that the students are speaking up. This is from a 1973 grad!

  2. Lewis Morgan says:

    Judy Rose’s time has come. She had some many great things for our University but she has proven to be unable to adapt to the current athletics climate.

    We will not be silenced. We will not stand down.

  3. Alyssa Jones says:

    Excellent article presenting the facts and argument in a balanced way. I was a freshman at the inaugural game and have watched the hype for football program die since I graduated in December 2016. Hopefully with the current momentum on campus the necessary changes will be made to respect the hefty fees the current students pay!

  4. John says:

    Culture of LOSING has got to go!

  5. Marc Moore says:

    As a current sophomore, I honestly don’t think the way many students are going about this protest is going to help the situation much, and the blame seems a bit unfairly placed on Director Rose and Mr. Lambert. I am not in support of any firings, and will not even consider being in support until I know more accurate information about what’s really going on behind the scenes.

    However, I do share many of these concerns. If we’re going to continue to put money towards athletics, I’d definitely want to see a clearer allocation of resources across the sports- Out of all of the major sports we have on campus, we have a relatively good baseball and softball team, championship male and female soccer teams, and basketball teams with a legacy, just to name a few, and that’s not even counting track, volleyball, and other quality athletic teams on campus. Yet, somehow, in advertising, hype, support, and at least seemingly maybe even in funding, all of the other sports get dwarfed by the football team. I’ve been told this is likely because of the idea that football brings in more money- but we aren’t a major college football school, and right now, between the program’s record and the fact that our other more successful sports are pushed to the sidelines, it all sadly reflects badly on our campus. I don’t blame the players, nor do I really blame the coaches, managers, nor even Director Rose herself but something needs to be done.

    UNCC thrives primarily in academics, and I’m proud to go to a school that at least mostly does put academics before sports. Personally, I can’t help but feel that the focus needs to remain on being the best at what our purpose is, a prestigious urban research university with programs that rival anywhere else in the state and country. But if we’re going to continue to try to develop our athletic programs, and continue putting time and precious resources into them, we need to make sure we’re doing it right and that our sports are a positive complement to each other and to our campus, not a distraction.

  6. Ryan Benson says:

    So proud of you guys speaking up. Your fees deserve better than what you are getting. Keep the pressure on them! Don’t be one and done. Alums all over the country support you. Take our Niners Back!

  7. R Neil Stikeleather says:

    It’s easy to be a critic from the cheap seats. I wonder how many of these outspoken experts so quick to suggest we fire Judy Rose have been at all invested in building our program up until this point. Are you a season ticket holder investing time in supporting the team? Are you a booster supporting the program monetarily? Do you have a background in college athletics other than phoning the local sports radio talk show? No investment of time or money in the program and no background in managing college athletics? No? None? Perhaps you should have a seat and show some respect to the folks that brought us this far this quickly. You disgrace the university you claim to love and you look foolish doing so.
    – Neil Stikeleather alumni 1992

    • Nick McAndrew says:

      This far this quickly? Neal, get real and wake up. Look around you at the Universities that we’re on the same time line and same playing field as us when Rose started. We are far behind all of those programs and have been left in the dust! As far as being a critic from the cheap seats? I’d think any fan involved in the conversation has the right to be a critic. Any alumni, student, or fan has the right. I myself know I have a hefty student loan payment that comes out every month from going here for 4 years. I had $700 of my tuition being dropped in this program. Show yourself some respect and stop being so obtuse and clueless.

    • Former Student Athlete says:

      Uh, I went to UNCC from 2012 to 2016 and it was hard watching the basketball team suck, watching the football team suck, watching every sport besides soccer and baseball suck… something needs to change and it starts with Judy Rose. I ran track through HS and college and that program got no love from Judy Rose at all. She fired coaches that shouldn’t have been fired and she keeps coaches who need to be gone. UNCC can’t keep up with CUSA athletics with her in office.

  8. Thanks for writing it like it is. Judy has been here for far too long, running the widely successful basketball team into the ground through bad extensions and coaching hires. The culture of winning is completely non exisitant in most of the sports and donors just don’t want to give. 28 years and millions of dollars in her pocket is enough. It’s time for fresh blood and a change of culture! #FireJudyRose

    -David Whitley ’17

  9. Craig Mack says:

    Hey Stinklather If you havent noticed already – you can see how many boosters are complaining by looking at the empty seats. Judy has been here nearly 30 years. I wouldnt call anything shes accomplished as being done “quickly”. #FireJudyRose

  10. Lena says:

    $300,000??? She’s making almost as much as a starting out brain surgeon.

  11. Anonymous says:

    As a former student-athlete at UNCC, I love the #FireJudyRose talk over the recent days. It is time for us to move on and make the Niners relevant again. I can tell you that Mrs. Rose never came around my sport and any of our games. I can promise you she doesn’t know any players names, unless they play Football or Mens/Womens Basketball. Her arrogance and selfishness does not belong at the top of an athletic program. I am tired of watching her run UNCC into the ground!

  12. Ashley King says:

    Imagine getting paid that much and not being held accountable for your failures! #FireJudyRose

Alexandria Sands

Alexandria is the News Editor for the Niner Times. She is a junior Communications major with a double minor in Journalism and Film. Alexandria has reported and taken photographs for The State Port Pilot, The Gaston Gazette and The Shelby Star. She is a graduate of the Academy of Information Technology within Apex High School. You can reach Alexandria at news@ninertimes.com or Twitter.com/alexsands_.