Chasing The Pigskin

On the far west end of UT- Arlington’s campus lies a mostly unused gridiron. It’s meticulously curated grass stalks unbothered by by fans an players of the university for which it stands, save the occasional high school game and band competition. But before you  get misty eyed and begin to look up the fight song and alma mater (Forever Arlington!), let’s take a closer look at why we don’t have football and why it won’t likely happen anytime soon.

In general, college sports are expensive, but that is an understatement as far as football is concerned.

Of the 128 FBS (Football Bowl Division) schools that compete, only 15-25 see revenues exceed expenses on average. On one end of the spectrum, there are schools like UT Austin, which annually competes for the title of most profitable FBS program. It earns roughly $90 million in yearly revenue, one of the very few programs that operates a surplus it can pay back to it’s parent university. On the other end there’s Georgia States athletic department, which drained its university for $100 million in subsidies, 85 percent of which came from the student body.

That leaves over 100 schools subsidizing their athletic departments to vastly varying degrees. And of those subsidies a large portion isn’t coming from the university. It is the students who are paying the price for these programs. Add in the growing speculation that players should be getting paid, and college football turns out to be a bad investment, more often than not. It’s built on a lottery type system where only the most valuable teams prevail and everyone else is simply fodder for the slaughter. The Power Five (SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and ACC) schools need somebody to warm up against, right?

subsidy
source: Huffington Post

Take a look at some numbers compiled by Huffington Post as part of their investigative piece on the issue of expensive college athletics. A closer look will show you where UTA sits in those rankings: 5th. Percent-wise we are the fifth most subsidized university in the nation. Schools like William & Mary pay nearly $1400 in fees per student to afford their program. Sort of destroys the nostalgia doesn’t it?

At a university where 87 percent of the athletic budget is paid for by students can’t possible hope to have the funds for football without a large commitment from the university, the same university wildly fixated on becoming a tier one institute. More money spent on athletics is less invested in research. President Spaniolo understood that, and so does Kharbhari.

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