UNT Dallas will now have an athletics program, with play starting in the fall

UNT Dallas now has a new college sports team, known as the Trailblazers.

It's a first for the school, and the school is looking to add more sports programs in the coming years.

To get a college sports team in Texas is a process.

First, the school had to get legislation passed to allow a fee increase for students.

And then students had to approve that fee, which they did, by a large margin.

Instead of shooting hoops just for fun, Merard Meritio hopes to play for the new UNT Dallas Trailblazers.

“When I dribble a ball, I feel free,” he said. “I filled it out as soon as I got it.”

Meritio is among the 63 percent of students who voted in favor of a fee that will amount to $84 a semester, or about 2 percent of the cost to attend the university.

“Just yesterday, we confirmed we are going to bring student athletics on campus,” campus tour guide Alma Depaz told those taking a tour on Friday.

The news is already a selling point for high school students getting a tour of the campus.

In addition to men's and women's basketball starting this fall, the school will also get cross country and track teams.

“Our university is growing, and we want to give you guys a traditional college experience,” Depaz said during the tour.

With the number of graduates up 80 percent in four years, UNT Dallas is the fastest growing state university in Texas.

“We are the city's only four-year urban university that focuses on urban youth. Almost all our students come from Dallas or a community college,” UNT Dallas President Bob Mong said.

Mong became president of UNT Dallas in 2015.

“Little by little, we build this university,” he explained.

The school, which is about to turn 10 years old, still struggles with name recognition.

“There's the UTD, UNT Denton. It can be confusing,” Mong added.

Athletic Director Jack Allday has laid the groundwork to help the university join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

He believes sports will help build the university's identity.

“Good for graduation rates and retention, and I defy you to name a four-year university in the state of Texas that doesn't have athletics. There is a reason all these schools have athletics,” Allday said.

In addition to adding athletics, and planning an events center, the university is also planning to build a second residents' hall.

[REPORTER: “Is UNT Dallas growing up?”] “Yes, graduating 80 percent more than four years ago. Name in community. People are seeing our graduates and what they can do,” Mong replied.

Basketball games will be played at a nearby community college starting this fall, until a special events center can be built.

The university also plans to add soccer in the coming years.