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Column: UTA football program would be too costly


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Terry Mclennan is a public relations senior and guest columnist

Andy Williams’ classic song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” may have been in reference to Christmas, but in Texas, that time is college football season, and it is in full swing. The hitting is hard, the competition is tough and the debates are fierce as people all over the state are embracing the return of football with open arms — well, almost everyone.  

This will be the 26th season that UTA will be absent from these conversations as the last time a football team represented the school was in 1985. For a lot of people, that is far too long to go without a football program, and the arguments are stronger and more legitimate than ever; UTA is coming off very successful seasons in men’s basketball and baseball, College Park Center is in full operation, UTA has begun it’s first season of athletic competition in the Western Athletic Conference which would love to add an eighth football team to its roster. Plus, UTA already has a 15,000-seat stadium on campus, as well as access to quite possibly the greatest arena ever built — Cowboys Stadium. 

When you look at those facts, it really does not make any sense why athletic director Jim Baker is not on the phone trying to hire a head coach and scheduling a press conference. There are plenty of other football programs in Texas that would love to be in the position that UTA is in right now. UTA is in a prime position to rejuvenate its program and capitalize on both the excitement and opportunities that a football team would bring. However, if it did, it would be the biggest mistake this program has ever made.

I understand that college football is different from college basketball from a financial standpoint, but that is also just the beginning of the investments that UTA will have to make in order to build a somewhat respectable program. 

Finding a high-quality coach who would be fully dedicated to rebuilding this program from the ground up would be almost impossible without writing a six-figure check. That is what fellow WAC Conference member UT-San Antonio had to do when they signed Larry Coker to take over their upstart program. According to the Texas Tribune, Coker made $220,000 in the school’s first football season. He was the lowest-paid football coach in the conference, but that’s still almost double what the Texas Tribune website said head coach Scott Cross made last year.

In addition to finding a coach, a decision would need to be made in regards to Maverick Stadium. According to the NCAA guidelines, a Division I football program must maintain an average attendance of 15,000 people per game. Maverick Stadium only holds 12,500, meaning the university will have to pay to have renovations done to the stadium to be up to par. The Idaho Vandals, who are also in the WAC, are undergoing a $52 million renovation project, so imagine how much will need to go into Maverick Stadium. That is unless you decide to lease out Cowboys Stadium, which would be very difficult to do with so many other games and events that also take place there. 

We haven’t even discussed the most important and most expensive investment of all, recruiting young men to be a part of the program Recruiting these days has now become a sport in its own, and it takes a heavy investment in both time and money —  especially when it comes to recruiting in the most football talent-rich state in the country. Thirty-nine of ESPN’s Top 300 high school prospects are from Texas and colleges from all over the nation are trying to grab them. When a coach is trying to convince these guys to play for the new UTA program as opposed to Texas Christian University, University of North Texas, Baylor University, Texas A&M and Texas State University, you’d better be prepared to bring something to the table.  

Without even discussing where they are going to live, scholarships, scheduling, travel and other ancillary charges that I can’t even think of right now, you are looking at the very least a two-year, $60-million project. A project that no one has the time, energy or money to devote to it. Although there would be some very excited Mavericks to see those players step on to the field, that excitement would soon fade when they realize that their program has turned into the new Savannah State of football: the sacrificial lamb of other major football programs as they get beat by 70 while collecting a check to cover the expenses for the remaining athletic programs.

I’m sure it would be great for UTA to once again be included in the Texas college-football debate, but please do everyone a favor and let the dream die. The program was dismantled 26 years ago, and that is where it needs to stay.

Read more: http://www.theshorthorn.com/opinion/columnists/columnist_your_view/column-uta-football-program-would-be-too-costly/article_74d3447c-01f8-11e2-8a9d-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=jqm

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Not sure how far off he is on the saleries. Coker is getting that amount and he is the lowest paid in the WAC. now if they stayed at FCS level, the saleries are lower and they don't need to do much to Maverick Stadium. Still, I'm told they planed to upgrade all the other sports first, the LOOK AT football. That's four more years of upgrade before they seriously think about football.

We can't upgade football, men's and women's basketball, volleyball and other sports while simultaneously added baseball at the level it would take to succeed. But the other programs are progressing which brings baseball closer.

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North Texas and UTA were neck and neck as far as enrollment is concerned back in 1985 when UTA dropped football (Their last game was at Fouts and i was in the stands). Since that time, the two schools have gone in opposite directions. North Texas has gone up and UTA has gone down. Colleges and universities get more exposure than some are willing to admit with athletics. Every newspaper in the nation has a sports page. No football means no coverage. Right or wrong, as Dr. Pohl used to say, athletics are the window into the University.

Beat Troy

Win the Sun Belt

GO MEAN GREEN

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North Texas and UTA were neck and neck as far as enrollment is concerned back in 1985 when UTA dropped football (Their last game was at Fouts and i was in the stands). Since that time, the two schools have gone in opposite directions. North Texas has gone up and UTA has gone down. Colleges and universities get more exposure than some are willing to admit with athletics. Every newspaper in the nation has a sports page. No football means no coverage. Right or wrong, as Dr. Pohl used to say, athletics are the window into the University.

Beat Troy

Win the Sun Belt

GO MEAN GREEN

UTA had a decline in enrollment in the late 90s, but since 2000 they have grown at a faster rate than north Texas and from 2007 to 2011 they have grown significantly faster

UTA was 20,424 in 2000 and 33,439 in 2011

north Texas was 27,054 to 35,694 in 2011 and 35,863 in 2012 UTA has not released their 2012 figures yet

UTA has also grown their graduate enrollment at a faster rate as well going from 6,282 in 2000 to 9,181 in 2011 VS 5,995 to 7,412

UTA has done that while growing the number for scheduled hours taken and the number of full time equivalent students at a faster rate as well and every year since 2000 they have had a higher % of students from the top 10% of their high school class enrolled as well and most years it has been significantly higher

so without football UTA is growing their overall student body faster since 2000 and the graduate enrollment as well along with a larger % of full time students growing at a faster rate and enrolling a higher % of top 10% HS students

so dropping football may have hurt them 20+ years ago, but they have come back from that over the last decade quite well

and UTA does significantly more total research and restricted research and they met two of the THECB criteria for NRUF funding VS 1 for north Texas one of which was 50% of freshman class being in the top 25% of their HS class.....UTA actually had the highest % both years in 2010 and 2011 with 60 and 61% followed by UTD then TTU (both of which qualified with this metric as well) then north Texas which was at 49%/51%

I think it is quite a stretch and easily refuted to say that UTA has gone down consistently since 1985 and it is pretty clear they have not since 2000 or to say that football being dropped has had a lasting impact even if it did have an impact 25 years ago

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I didn't understand then (1985) and I still don't know, why they didn't drop down to non-scholarship football. A regular rivalry with Tarleton, Midwestern (who resurrected their program after UTA dropped theirs), WTA&M etc etc, would be much better than no football at all.

Even Texas A & M Commerce has a football team. I'm absolutely baffled as to why UTA still doesn't have a football team.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Is it possible that I am the only UTA alumnus to reply on this topic? I agree with Silvereagle.

It just doesn't make sense.

We have lost a quarter century of fun we could've been having if "Dr. Pohl's window" had only been kept open at UTA. I'm afraid we are under the control of the same kind of leftist tree-hugging commie bastards that are attacking UNT from South Dallas.

A thin sliver of hope is starting to shine into our bunker as the arch-anti-football president Spaniolo is finally closing out his career. We have a search committee that is just now forming up and I am very hopeful that they will be looking at candidates who are not anti-football.

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Is it possible that I am the only UTA alumnus to reply on this topic? I agree with Silvereagle.

It just doesn't make sense.

We have lost a quarter century of fun we could've been having if "Dr. Pohl's window" had only been kept open at UTA. I'm afraid we are under the control of the same kind of leftist tree-hugging commie bastards that are attacking UNT from South Dallas.

A thin sliver of hope is starting to shine into our bunker as the arch-anti-football president Spaniolo is finally closing out his career. We have a search committee that is just now forming up and I am very hopeful that they will be looking at candidates who are not anti-football.

As a UTA alumnus, I just don't see it happening...they didn't have any support when they were playing football, doubt they will now...it a culture thing. Just where are they going to get the money. Look how difficult it is for UNT to build a program with assets and support. I don't see myself ever going to any of the games...I prefer UNT.

Wonder how attendance will be with BB ;and the new arena? My bet...lacking. But gotta say...the cheerleaders are HOT. I wish them luck.

Edited by houstonmeangreen
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Ok so I have a legit question for Duck_Mav and houstonmeangreen:

Almost all the kids I went to high school with (I'm from the Houston area) who went to UTA went there because they had been in the top 10% or had been otherwise accepted to UT Austin, but for whatever reason couldn't go there. Most of them were told that while they were accepted, the limit for the number of incoming students in Austin had been reached and there was no room for them. A few had family in DFW and decided to spend a few years at UTA to save money by living with them. One wanted to do architecture and specifically chose UTA for that.

Point is, most of the people that I knew who went to UTA looked at it as a stop-over or stepping stone for going to UT Austin. They never developed a connection to UTA sports because they were always looking longingly at UT Austin and they sports fan aspirations showed that.

Is that a common attitude there, or is my experience out of the ordinary?

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Ok so I have a legit question for Duck_Mav and houstonmeangreen:

Almost all the kids I went to high school with (I'm from the Houston area) who went to UTA went there because they had been in the top 10% or had been otherwise accepted to UT Austin, but for whatever reason couldn't go there. Most of them were told that while they were accepted, the limit for the number of incoming students in Austin had been reached and there was no room for them. A few had family in DFW and decided to spend a few years at UTA to save money by living with them. One wanted to do architecture and specifically chose UTA for that.

Point is, most of the people that I knew who went to UTA looked at it as a stop-over or stepping stone for going to UT Austin. They never developed a connection to UTA sports because they were always looking longingly at UT Austin and they sports fan aspirations showed that.

Is that a common attitude there, or is my experience out of the ordinary?

I think there was an era when that was an attitude that accounted for some of the best and brightest students at UTA, perhaps ten years ago. Only speaking for myself, I never considered Arlington a stopover, unless it was a stopover on my way to law school. Now that about 5,000 students live on campus, with a majority of the others in apartments within 5 miles of campus, it's hard to apply the old paradigms. During my era when we were playing winning football (late 60s), attendance was good, interest was high, and community support was significant.

If you came later, your reality was different, and I get that.

As for whether or not UTA would support football, I doubt that UNT had good crowds during the latter years of the Dodge era. That doesn't mean North Texas cannot or does not support football. I'm sorry to hear from any UTA exe who thinks we could not support a competitive team. That's absurd.

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Ok so I have a legit question for Duck_Mav and houstonmeangreen:

Almost all the kids I went to high school with (I'm from the Houston area) who went to UTA went there because they had been in the top 10% or had been otherwise accepted to UT Austin, but for whatever reason couldn't go there. Most of them were told that while they were accepted, the limit for the number of incoming students in Austin had been reached and there was no room for them. A few had family in DFW and decided to spend a few years at UTA to save money by living with them. One wanted to do architecture and specifically chose UTA for that.

Point is, most of the people that I knew who went to UTA looked at it as a stop-over or stepping stone for going to UT Austin. They never developed a connection to UTA sports because they were always looking longingly at UT Austin and they sports fan aspirations showed that.

Is that a common attitude there, or is my experience out of the ordinary?

When I stepped on campus in 2000, you would have been able to say the same thing about UNT. Except A&M was also looked upon just as longingly.

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Ok so I have a legit question for Duck_Mav and houstonmeangreen:

Almost all the kids I went to high school with (I'm from the Houston area) who went to UTA went there because they had been in the top 10% or had been otherwise accepted to UT Austin, but for whatever reason couldn't go there. Most of them were told that while they were accepted, the limit for the number of incoming students in Austin had been reached and there was no room for them. A few had family in DFW and decided to spend a few years at UTA to save money by living with them. One wanted to do architecture and specifically chose UTA for that.

Point is, most of the people that I knew who went to UTA looked at it as a stop-over or stepping stone for going to UT Austin. They never developed a connection to UTA sports because they were always looking longingly at UT Austin and they sports fan aspirations showed that.

Is that a common attitude there, or is my experience out of the ordinary?

Don't know the current attitude...UTA is an excellent school, but sports wasn't a big part of it when I was there...football was good enough to beat TCU at the time and they did have some talent, but it was eliminated by Dr Nedderman (?) because there just wasn't enough interest and support....I liked football and tried to make every game I could...when I finished at UTA i picked UNT partly because of this guy named Hayden fry and the meangreen were really good... just to the north a few miles....no regrets. People I knew from UTA never go back or support the school because they have no football and now no connection, unlike UNT.

I guess UTA was a stop over for many the way to grad school, med, law, etc.

Edited by houstonmeangreen
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Let's look at this way. If Sul Ross State can still field a football team (non scholarship) then I don't understand how UTA can't at least start there. Or start where Midwestern State started.

There are very few places that prefer non-scholarship football to no football. Since the 1990 NCAA ruling that schools couldn't step down a division in football, the only option had been the pioneer league and maybe one other (patriot?) The football programs in that status don't go to the playoffs, they aren't very good.

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There are very few places that prefer non-scholarship football to no football. Since the 1990 NCAA ruling that schools couldn't step down a division in football, the only option had been the pioneer league and maybe one other (patriot?) The football programs in that status don't go to the playoffs, they aren't very good.

I don't understand your 1990 reference. UTA decided to drop football altogether in 1985.

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I don't understand your 1990 reference. UTA decided to drop football altogether in 1985.

The 1990 reference severely limited options. There were schools out west similar to UTA in many ways that were running D1 athletic programs with D2 football. The NCAA put a stop to that, so if you're a D1 program like UTA, and you want to look at non-scholarship football, the Pioneer League is pretty much your only option, and it's a pretty bad option.

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The 1990 reference severely limited options. There were schools out west similar to UTA in many ways that were running D1 athletic programs with D2 football. The NCAA put a stop to that, so if you're a D1 program like UTA, and you want to look at non-scholarship football, the Pioneer League is pretty much your only option, and it's a pretty bad option.

It might have been But if there was any serious interested in upgrading the program again, it wouldn't have cost as much as starting back up from scratch.

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I think there was an era when that was an attitude that accounted for some of the best and brightest students at UTA, perhaps ten years ago. Only speaking for myself, I never considered Arlington a stopover, unless it was a stopover on my way to law school. Now that about 5,000 students live on campus, with a majority of the others in apartments within 5 miles of campus, it's hard to apply the old paradigms. During my era when we were playing winning football (late 60s), attendance was good, interest was high, and community support was significant.

If you came later, your reality was different, and I get that.

As for whether or not UTA would support football, I doubt that UNT had good crowds during the latter years of the Dodge era. That doesn't mean North Texas cannot or does not support football. I'm sorry to hear from any UTA exe who thinks we could not support a competitive team. That's absurd.

I certainly disagree with your assumption - UNT had good crowds during the latter years of the Dodge era - except for a few cold, wet game days.

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