Sunday, January 6, 2013

More Colleges Moving to Adopt Big Time Football Programs – And the Reasons are Hilarious and Stupid at the Same Time

Apparently These Are Colleges Without an Economics Department

When the decline (but hopefully not the fall) of the United States is documented one thing that will be prominently listed as a cause will be the tail (college athletics) wagging the dog (college education).  While the rest of the world, particularly the rapidly developing nations of Asia and South America are investing in higher education in order to have more education, America’s institutions of higher learning are investing more in having a football team.

Here’s the honor roll of potential new entrants into the money draining, attention diverting and scandal creating world of college football.

Old Dominion, which reinstated football in 2009, and North Carolina-Charlotte, which will play its first football game next year, will be full-time F.B.S. members in 2015. Liberty, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern would like to make the move and are awaiting an invitation from a F.B.S. conference, which is required to join the top tier. But such invitations are not hard to come by in a climate in which conferences restructure almost weekly. Other universities that have discussed taking a leap of faith upward include, among others, James Madison, Delaware, Northern Iowa, Cal-Poly, Villanova, Jacksonville State, Northern Arizona and Sam Houston State. There are already about 125 F.B.S.-level football teams.

Of course, this world is an expensive one.

At North Carolina-Charlotte, Judy Rose, the athletic director, did not wait, either. She recalled when U.N.C.-Charlotte might have been able to join the Big East in 2005 but was spurned because it did not play football. The university studied the leap to F.B.S. for years but agreed to make the transition even though it meant a $45 million expenditure for a new arena and football stadium.

And what are some of the reasons, and commentary on why schools might be doing this?   Here is UNC Charlotte.

A large urban research institution, U.N.C.-Charlotte is also trying to shake its one-time commuter university reputation. It hopes the new football team can have a pivotal cultural impact.

Right, football is right up there with art, music, creative writing and other aspects of culture.  Of course, if UNC Charlotte really wants to change its reputation maybe spending $45 million on research and education might, just might be slightly better.

And here is a reason from Texas San Antonio.

When Lynn Hickey, the director of athletics at Texas-San Antonio, was asked why her institution started playing football last year and will fully jump to the F.B.S. level next year, she said: “We are in one of the largest cities in the nation, we had an empty dome across town and we’re in a state where football is king.

Wow, having an empty stadium across the street must compels a college to field a football team.

And how about this for U. Mass.

This year, UMass took the mighty step up to big-time college football, shedding its lower-level pedigree to enter the sport’s highest tier, the Football Bowl Subdivision. To make the leap more concrete, UMass decided to play its home games at Gillette Stadium, the domain of the N.F.L.’s New England Patriots.

Um, ok, how is that working out?  Oh yes, since the stadium is about 100 miles from campus, not so well.

Erik Jacobs for The New York Times
UMass, which absorbed nearly $3 million in new football expenditures, played its home games at a mostly empty Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and compiled an 0-5 record there.

Well, the good news is that some at UMass are getting a good education.  In fact this student sounds like she knows far more about this issue than the administration of the University.

“I wasn’t crazy with the amount of money they were already spending on football,” said Glenn Larose, a junior engineering major from Chicopee, Mass. “I’m sure the upgrade is meant to get us more publicity, but my tuition goes up 7 percent and at the same time, we’re adding more football players attending for free.”

Oh, and on a personal note please do not bother The Dismal Political Economist.   He will be very busy watching the Bowl games, and will be glued to the set during the Alabama – Notre Dame game for the national championship. 

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