The long-awaited return of the Carleton Ravens' football program is upon us. After scrapping their team (at least partly thanks to financial considerations) following a 1-7 1998 campaign, the Ravens will again compete in CIS football starting in 2013. That's a good thing for CIS as a whole, as the league gains another football program and one that could have a notable impact, and it's probably a good thing for Canadian football too. More programs equals more talent development, and it's tough to argue with that.
The arrangement under which the new Ravens' program will be operating is quite an interesting one, though. The Old Crows football alumni association will be financing the team, and there will be a community-based board of directors that runs things in partnership with the university administration. Most football teams are just another athletic department team, but there are some exceptions (such as the Regina Rams, which transitioned from a junior program to a CIS team affiliated with the University of Regina). Still, Carleton's structure appears unconventional.
Being unconventional isn't a bad thing, though, and it's notable that the $5 million in funding needed for this is mostly coming from alumni. One prominent donation comes from former Raven John Ruddy, now the president of the Trinity Development Group and a guy who's involved with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group that's trying to bring the CFL back to town. Ruddy chipped in $2.5 million, which goes a long way to getting a team back on the field. The alumni support so far has been fantastic (which should be expected; the Old Crows have been around CIS football for a long while and continued to be notable long after the demise of their team), and that's helped get this on the road.
It's also notable that the goal for this revitalization is for a self-sustaining program. As The Charlatan's Gianluca Nesci writes "[T]he team will act as its own entity, absorbing the costs of the program without involvement from the school." That's something that's worked very well at Laval, but it could wind up being a notable burden if things don't go well. For this to be a success, the Ravens will have to go beyond just the alumni community and get corporate sponsors involved as well. We'll see how it works out, but the return of football at Carleton certainly seems promising from this standpoint.