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The University of New Orleans was founded as Louisiana State University at New Orleans in 1958 and didn't field any athletic teams until the mid-1960s. The students of that time desperately wanted their own collegiate identity. In 1964-65 the LSUNO students voted for a mascot and school colors: Privateers wearing Silver and Blue. Not long after, the university added athletic programs, playing under the Privateer mascot and colors.
Ironically, football was the first team sport UNO played. And by all accounts, the non-scholarship club program that played from 1965 through 1970 was a great success. The team had a modest beginning, losing 21-0 to Loyola in their only game in 1965. The Privateers played two games in 1966, finishing 1-1, beating Spring Hill for their first victory ever but losing 20-6 to Loyola once again. The Privateers recorded their first winning season in 1967, finishing 2-1, but lost to Loyola for the third year in a row.
In 1968 head coach Tom Gruber directed the Privateers to a 3-1 record, defeating cross-town rival Loyola to win the South District championship of the National Club Football Association. That same year the Privateers finished the season ranked 8th in the NCFA national poll. George Baud, a Privateer defensive lineman was named a club football All-American as well.
In 1969 the Privateers, under new coach Dale Hoffpauir, again beat Loyola and finished 3-2-1, repeating as the South District champs and attaining a No. 4 preseason national ranking in the NCFA poll. 1969 was the first season in which the Privateers played under the UNO banner rather than LSUNO, even though it would be five more years before the university officially became the University of New Orleans. Also in 1969 the Privateers moved their home field to East Jefferson Stadium from Tad Gormley where they had played their first four seasons.
The 1970 Privateers played an ambitious seven game schedule, finishing 3-4 but winning the South District for the third consecutive season because of their 2-0 district record which included a victory over Loyola. 1970 again saw a change in venue for the Privateers as they alternated home games between East Jefferson Stadium and West Jefferson Stadium.
In its first six seasons of football, UNO's overall record was 12-10-1 with three district championships. The series record with arch-rival Loyola stands at 3-3. UNO owns a 2-0 advantage over Nicholls State after beating the Colonels in 1969 and 1970. The Privateers did play the Tulane JV squad in 1970 at Tulane, with the Green Wave beating UNO 56-13. UNO's Founding Chancellor Homer Hitt recalled the six years of Privateer football as a "kind of glory period for LSUNO. We competed with schools from all over, including Loyola and Nicholls."
In 1971, when club football programs faded and the NCFA folded, UNO dropped the program while Nicholls State, a club football rival of the Privateers, elevated their team to full intercollegiate status. UNO had considered expanding its football program to a fully funded level, but it was thought to be too costly at the time. The club football team had spent $22,000 in 1970. Doc Costanza stated in his 1989 Driftwood article on UNO football: "When one considers the costs and benefits of a modern college football team, it seems that it may have been a mistake for UNO to phase out its team rather than expand it." UNO went 38 years without football until the club program was revived for the 2008 season.
Between 1971 and 2008 there were several unsuccesful attempts to establish NCAA football at UNO.
In 1984, UNO Football, Inc. was organized by Professor Stephen Ambrose to secure the funding for a full-fledged Division I football program at UNO. Dr. Ambrose was ambitious. He was quoted by the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate in April, 1984 as offering this scenario: "September 1990: LSU 58, UNO 0. September 1991: LSU 28, UNO 7. And then in the third year...watch out!" UNO athletic director Ron Maestri was also supportive of the plan to bring football to UNO at the time. He was quoted in the same Morning Advocate article as saying, "Our students are hooked on football. They attend LSU and Tulane games. Students, faculty and staff can rally around a football program. It's a dimension most other major universities have." But because the 1980s were times of financial crisis in Louisiana and because academic and athletic budgets were being slashed around the state, the fundraising drive for UNO football stalled and the idea was dropped.
In April, 2000 a proposal for non-scholarship football at UNO was released to the public. This proposal was authored by Roy Raspanti, former executive director of the UNO Athletic Association. In May, 2000 the UNO Athletic Association was reorganized as the Privateer Athletic Foundation. During then-AD Bob Brown's tenure, a PAF committee was formed to study the feasibility of football at UNO. The committee researched the issues extensively, but no action was ever taken to move forward with implementing the football program.
In 2008 Andy Benoit, Jr. spearheaded the return of club football to UNO, playing two games. The Privateers lost both games, including a 30-14 home loss to SIU-Edwardsville in front of 3,707 fans in Tad Gormley Stadium. They also traveled to Cincinnati to take on club football powerhouse Xavier, losing that game 25-6.
In 2009, the Privateer Football Club joined the Midwestern Club Football Conference, competing in the South Division along with Xavier (OH), Miami (OH), and SIU-Edwardsville. The Privateers recorded their most wins ever, finishing 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the MCFC South, good enough for a second place finish. The Privateers' only loss on the club level of competition was a 27-21 overtime loss to Miami (OH). Their other two losses during 2009 were to varsity teams from Concordia and NAIA Edward Waters.
Coach Benoit guided the Privateers to the most successful season in school history in 2010. UNO finished with an 8-2 record, with their only losses by 5 points on the road to NAIA Edward Waters and by a single point at home to NAIA Concordia. The Privateers were unbeaten in club football play, defeating Miami of Ohio 28-21 for the NCFA National Championship.
The next few seasons saw major changes and a significant decline for the UNO Privateers football program. The University's NCAA athletic program went through a turbulent time as the administration decided to reclassify, first to NCAA Division III, then to Division II, before reversing course and remaining in NCAA Division I and joining the Southland Conference. During that period Coach Benoit left UNO. Coach Sean Santos took over for Benoit, but the Privateers football program never regained th e stability or success it enjoyed under Benoit. The Privateers completed the 2011 season with a 2-5 record and were 1-3 in 2012 when the remaining schedule was cancelled.
UNO has not fielded a football team since 2012, though efforts to revive the program have been considered in recent years.
UNO Privateer Football Year-by-Year Results
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