Football At UALR — Who Pays? (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Jul. 17, 2017 12:00 am   2 min read

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the state Department of Parks & Tourism and the city of Little Rock are set to bid out a feasibility study that will look to determine whether a football team and marching band should be added at UA Little Rock.

The inspiration for the study is said to be a 1,000-signature-strong petition submitted by students asking Chancellor Andrew Rogerson to add a football program at the university. If added, the team will compete at the Division I level.

There’s no doubt that someone will benefit from a college football team coming back to the Little Rock area, which hasn’t been home to a collegiate team since 1955 when the team at Little Rock Junior College, which would later become UA Little Rock, disbanded.

Several reasons for considering adding a football team were shared by the university. “Several factors will be considered, including increased school spirit and student enrollment and alumni and community engagement,” a university website said. “Additionally, an FBS college football program could benefit the local economy, particularly hotels and restaurants in the Little Rock area.”

Although university leaders say a “substantial portion” of the startup costs would be covered by private donations, funding the year-to-year costs will, undoubtedly, eventually shift to the shoulders of students.

An NCAA report from 2015 found that only 24 programs out of 346 Division I athletic departments in the nation made enough money through ticket sales and other athletic revenues to be self-supporting. The rest required shoring up from their respective institutions.

There’s a chance that school spirit will be lifted, student enrollment will increase and alumni and community members will be more engaged should the university start a football program, but it will almost certainly come at an increased cost to students.



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