Thursday, February 07, 2008

The push for more football

The season is over. No more bowl games, no more NFL playoffs. But people still want football. Over the past month or so I've come across several stories of schools where someone(s) is pushing for the revival or institution of intercollegiate football.

The study on the viability and feasibility of adding football at UNC Charlotte concluded not too long ago. Not surprisingly the committee has decided to issue a recommendation to the chancellor that states football would be a positive addition to the institution.

The popular conception that football brings in alumni dollars and increases school spirit was likely a huge factor in the committee's decision. They did not take lightly, though, the huge expense adding a football team--a team that they want to eventually take to Division 1A--adds to the budget. And the increase in the budget also necessarily includes the costs associated with adding women's sports to keep in line the opportunities for male and female student-athletes.

Across the country in California, there is movement afoot at Cal State Fullerton to reinstate football at the school. Football was cut over 15 years ago in order to save money. Bringing back the sport at the Division I Championship Subdivision Level (formerly known as IAA--a far easier label, I thought) would cost, according to a guesstimate from athletic director Brian Quinn, at least $4 million--every year. It's not entirely clear from the article who is leading the push to bring back football but those involved have suggested raising some of the money by increasing student fees--likely above and beyond the 10 percent increase called for by Governor Schwarzenegger. Beyond the costs of a football program are--again--the costs that would be incurred when the university adds women's teams to keep the number of opportunities proportionate to the percentage of undergraduates at Fullerton (58 percent are women but only 52 percent of athletic opportunities currently are provided to women). Adding a football team at the DI level usually means a roster of at least 100 players. Fullerton doesn't currently have women's crew--they may want to consider it if the plan to reinstate football moves forward because they are going to need a lot of opportunities fast.

Also in California, UC San Diego (DII) has put together a task force to look at the possibility of adding a football team. But unlike at UNCC it looks like the task force is a student-run one out of their student government association. The debate over a potential addition has generated some discussion, both in person at meetings and on the internet where two opposing Facebook groups have formed to debate to the issue. Even though the task force will look at all the attendance issues addressed by the UNCC committee, the CUSD chancellor has said there just isn't enough money right now and argues that the pro-football Facebook group that claims the addition would cost $1 million (including covering the addition of women' sports) is underestimating.