URI President David Dooley told members of the press Wednesday morning that the university's football program – coming off an 0-11 season – "has a problem and we're going to fix it."
Dooley stopped short of saying it was strictly a personnel problem, arguing that while the budget for football was relatively big ($800,000), the bulk of the program was built around financial aid and scholarships. "That's bringing to Rhode Island students we'd want anyway," said Dooley.
"If you look at the money we spend outside of scholarships, a good deal of that budget is provided by the operations of football itself," he said. The football program will need to bring in more money going forward, he said.
On a regional issue, Dooley said he thought bringing commuter rail south to Kingston was vital.
"One of the things we're pushing hard ... we think it's critical to extend commuter rail to Kingston and lock in the connection between the University of Rhode Island and Providence," he said.
Dooley said he intends to further cement the link between URI and Providence through the construction of a new nursing school to serve both URI and Rhode Island College in Providence's Knowledge District. That would require as-yet-unpromised buy-in by the state – upwards of $5 million a year.
He was also asked about how to make URI more of a statewide school once more. The ratio of in-state to out-of-state students was 47-53 for incoming freshman this year. Overall enrollment is about 60-40, he said.
"Right now, we do not deny admission to any qualified Rhode Islander,"Dooley said. "Our entering classes have been increasingly non-resident.... Part of that reflects Rhode Island demographics – there are fewer Rhode Island high school graduates. And part of that is, as we've expanded our national profile, we're attracting more applicants from out of state."
In other words, it's more difficult to get into URI now than it was 10, 20 years ago, he said. "We're more selective now."
"I think part of our problem ... is too few of our high school graduates in Rhode Island are truly college ready," he said.
To read more about what Dooley has to say, check out the Providence Journal's story here.