A simple joke about football raised a question that never quite goes away for Wichita State fans. Should the school bring back its football program? The university’s new president says, “Maybe.”
WSU hasn't had a football team since 1986, yet with the beginning of every football season it's a topic of conversation among Shocker fans.
“Let's just be honest, there is that attraction, there is that draw that your K-States and KUs have with their football programs,” said Kimberly Wilkerson, Director of the Executive MBA Program at Wichita State. “And that is something that we don't offer at WSU anymore.”
So it was no surprise when the idea of bringing football back came up at a strategic planning meeting at Wichita State on Wednesday.
“And what about football?” said one participant.
The meeting was meant to discuss the direction Wichita State should take over the next few years, academically. But football came up so often, WSU's new president, John Bardo, jokingly began to keep count. And the concept became an online rumor...
“Well, I don't actually think that I mentioned that we were going to return football,” Bardo said. “But, people interpret things as they will.”
“There's just kind of been a shift at the university where more people are talking about it,” added Wilkerson. “And I don't know if it's the change to a new president and it's like, well, let's see if we can bring this up again and get it on the table.”
So what does Bardo think about bringing football back?
“I've never said no about it,” he said.
In fact, Bardo says he's a huge football fan, especially Shocker football.
“I was here when football was around and had season tickets. I understand what Shocker football was about and why. But that's not where we are right now,” Bardo said.
And he's thought about bringing the sport back, but not right now.
“We'll look at football three or four years from now,” he said. “The costs are such that people are really going to have to understand that before we can have a serious conversation about it. That means bringing in a consultant to actually look at it seriously.”
So the question remains not ‘when’, but ‘if’ football will ever return to Cessna Stadium.