How a Division I School Starts Football: HBU Article

I don’t want to get into the debate whether UTA should start up football.
There. I said it.

I do remember going to games as a kid at then-brand-new Maverick Stadium with my dad. The cool fall evenings, the big blue scoreboard on the north end with the scrolling one-line messages on top, the pressbox that looked a lot like what the huge Southwest Conference stadiums had, the blue seats on the west side from the 45 to the 45, coaches like Bud Elliot and Chuck Curtis, the greatness of former mayor Bob Vandergriff’s announcing over the stadium PA speakers after every play. Great memories.

As has been well documented, the program averaged 5600 in attendance the final season, it was hurting the school financially and the decision was made to end football. UTA has drawn two or three basketball crowds that size the last two years, and drew 4000+ to Rangers Ballpark for a game against TCU last year. So maybe the UTA fan base has grown? Maybe more on-campus dorms and a long-gone image of “commuter school” is putting the school in a position where football might work at UTA again? I don’t know, and it’s been written about and discussed over the years.

Emotionally, I’d love for it to come back. But objectively, it’s got to be financially feasible. I’ve got to think that if and when the dollars and budgets and everything involved can support a Maverick football team, at some point it’ll return. We’ve seen Lamar, Southeastern Louisiana, UT-San Antonio start up football programs in recent years.

Sure, starting up (or bringing back) a Division I football program can theoretically be done by any school (I’d think), but at what cost? Can you draw enough fans and get enough sponsorships to make the financial numbers work? Can you lose money on football but consider it an immeasurable and intangible marketing opportunity for the university? Does it need to make a certain amount of money? How much? How long do you give the fan base to grow? Can you play on the field as well and support the program financially as well as other schools in your current conference? Do you step down to a less-prestigious conference to start football at a less expensive level but also lose rivalries built up over the years in your current league? What about the actual facilities where games and practices are held? New stadiums ain’t cheap these days. These are tough decisions I’m glad I don’t have to make. To be honest, it kinda gives me tiredhead.

I don’t want to get into the debate whether UTA should start up football.
I didn’t. Not really, anyway.

So here’s an interesting look at how HBU has started up their football program in the Houston Press. Fascinating stuff. It’s a long article and admittedly I’ve only read half of it, but I’m convinced you’ll find it to be a very interesting read:
http://www.houstonpress.com/2013-09-26/news/houston-baptist-university-football/

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