Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remedy for Lonely Fall

I posted this to the UTA forum a while back, so if you go to both, it will seem familiar.

For many UTA fans, support for adding a women's soccer program is purely as a way to be compliant with Title IX while the Athletic Department adds football. I have a different view about the reasons for adding the sport.

I'd like to UTA to add women's soccer, independent of any football decision for the following reasons:

1) UTA is increasingly becoming one of the few D1 schools to not offer the sport. As of the 2012/13 academic year, there were 323 DI women's soccer programs (There are 327, not counting those schools transitioning from DII). Comparatively, there were 347 men's basketball teams and 345 women's basketball programs. So UTA was one of only 24 DI teams without it, a percentage of 7 percent. That disparity is even smaller now. For example, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi debuted their program this year, while UT-Pan American will begin theirs next year.

2) All of our conference mates have it. In the SLC, we were one of two who didn't sponsor it. A&M Corpus Christi has since announced they are adding it. The new members of the SLC will have it (New Orleans had announced the addition of soccer for moving to DII, so I am assuming they will have it), meaning every full member of the SLC will sponsor the sport. In the WAC we were the only school to not sponsor it and when we join the SBC, we will be the only school to not sponsor it. This leads to -

3) It would increase our Commissioners Cup standings. In the WAC, only Denver, with 9, didn't offer more sports the conference competed in. We finished 6th in the WAC standings and were 3.25 points behind Texas St and 4.5 points behind New Mexico St. With women's soccer, we might. If we had soccer and it averaged what our other sports averaged, we would have been a quarter of a point from third. As with the case in the SLC, we finished middle of the pack not because we field middle of the pack teams, but because we don't sponsor as many sports as those ahead of us.

4) It would help fill a void in the fall. Right now, UTA offers volleyball and cross country for both genders. I am glad our cross country teams are nationally competitive, but it doesn't exactly generate student pride and activity like a spectator sport could. It would also give a University function to Maverick Stadium in the fall that doesn't exist right now.

5) The investment would be manageable. Using the Nienas Report as a guide, which is probably going to be somewhat off because that was done as a package deal with both Women's Golf and Football, they wouldn't need a practice field, would need 5,000 sq ft for a locker room and other related-facilities and it could be had for 1 million or less, adjusting for inflation. The program would cost less than $500,000 a year once it is up and running full, which is about 6-7% of our current budget.

There would also be increased revenues, mostly in the form of ticket sales and conference revenues. Now it wouldn't cover the costs, but it would also mean that the amount the Department would have to cover is less than 6-7% of the budget.

6) Consider these numbers from schools in Division 1: Of the schools that sponsor football, 4 1-A schools don't have soccer and 11 1-AA don't. 92 teams sponsor Women's Soccer who don't have football. It is quite common for a school to have women's soccer and not football. There are/will be two new start-ups in Texas where that is the case. This would give the admin a way to temper expectations about a future football team.

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