Last week was the Faculty/Staff football feasibility study forum. In attendance were about 20-25 faculty and staff that discussed the consequences of adding or not adding football to UNC Charlotte’s athletic program. The forum was run in a similar manner to the Alumni Football Forum which was held the previous week.
During the forum, faculty and staff needed to spend most of their time merely becoming educated on the topic along with all the nuances that are a part of the decision. 1A or 1AA? What is the difference? Gender equity and Title IX requirements?
My conclusion from the forum is that many faculty and staff are simply unaware of the consequences of football, adding or not adding it. But that is understandable, faculty are specialists in their fields and have many extensive responsibilities outside of the hustle that is managing classes. Most of the outspoken faculty worked at schools with football or were graduates of schools with big football programs, such as Notre Dame, Louisville and Mizzou. They remembered the sense of community and the campus presence that football provided and cited the 70,000+ alumni of UNC Charlotte that live in the area which are not being engaged by their alma mater.
The overall sentiment from the forum was that football can provide many valuable assets to UNC Charlotte as we shed our regional persona and begin to create our national level identity. Some people think that we have to change our name right now to achieve this goal, but the faculty and staff realized that a big football program can do that. Many people don’t care that Maryland is actually University of Maryland – College Park. Most people just know the Terps as Maryland, because of the branding provided by the athletic programs.
For a university that is struggling to even establish itself locally, that would be an invaluable asset… although costly. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
How can a university become a national university if it can’t establish itself as the premiere institution in its own region?
The challenges surrounding the ability to establish football at a significantly under-funded state institution may seem insurmountable, but we can’t even begin the answer of how unless we decide to do it.