CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Austin Peay announced Friday it will give scholarships and return to the Ohio Valley Conference in 2007 after scrapping the awards and leaving the league nine years ago as a cost-saving measure.
"This is their dream, and I just bought into their dream and wanted to make a way to turn it into reality," said school president Sherry Hoppe.
The Governors have been competing as a nonscholarship Division I-AA team, and had 17 straight losing seasons before a 7-5 record in 2003.
"I believe that if we are going to play football, we need to play football in the OVC where we play all of our other sports," Hoppe said. "I don't think we have the complete university experience or athletic department if we don't."
The school plans to offer 45 scholarships, while officials raised another $750,000 in private money to pay for 15 more. Hoppe would not say how much the university is investing in the program.
Hoppe said after five years she thinks the university will have grown enough to pay for all 60 scholarships on its own.
"I think we can hold our own after that time," she said. "I think our revenues will increase, and we will be OK."