Citadel cheerleaders, absent from the sidelines last year, will be making a comeback this football season, the school announced Thursday.

The Bulldogs plan to field a squad of eight to 12 men and women, made up of cadets, graduate student and "interested locals with cheerleading and public relations experience." The Citadel did not have cheerleaders last year, and instead featured an all-cadet "Spirit Squad" at home football games.

The Stray Dog Society, a group of Citadel fans, will help develop, recruit and train the cheerleading team along with coach Stephanie Slan, a 2008 Citadel graduate and former Bulldogs cheerleader.

"We are appreciative of The Stray Dog Society for stepping up and again show a willingness to assist," said interim athletics director Rob Acunto. "We had a situation with our cheerleaders that simply wasn't ideal and were searching ways in which to improve it when the Stray Dog Society came along. We very much like the potential with this unique partnership."

Stray Dog Society president Joe Nuttall said the cheerleaders will "help significantly with spirit at our home football games."

The Citadel decided earlier this year that it would return the Corps of Cadets to the home side of Johnson Hagood Stadium. The cadets had been seated on the visitors' side of the stadium since 2006.

The Bulldogs kick off their first season under coach Mike Houston on Aug. 30 against Coastal Carolina.