Study: Bringing football back to Wichita State could cost tens of millions

Published: Jun. 27, 2016 at 4:48 PM CDT
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Wichita State University on Monday received and publicly released a consultant's study on the feasibility of returning football to the university's athletic department.

The 69-page study looks at several key factors involving the costs and processes needed to reinstate football at WSU. Highlights of the study include a breakdown of conference options, scholarship requirements, how many coaches would be needed to start a team and even examples of schools that have started football programs in recent years.

"It's good to finally get it out and get it out to the public so people can begin to review it on their own," Interim Athletic Director Darron Boatright said.

The study is a preliminary report on what all would be involved for WSU to restart football. The study does not confirm the resurgence of football at the university will happen.

The university is now requesting feedback on the study.

"We're trying to change opinionated conversation into educated conversation," Boatright said. "The decision is the community's, both the campus community and the greater Wichita community. And the president would be the one that would enact that. But we'll engage all aspects of people that are affected by this to see what's best."

If Wichita State met necessary requirements and wanted to restart its football program at the main NCAA Division I level (FBS), it would take at least a couple years from the time the university applied before the Shockers could take the field.

The study includes information that says in part: "The notice and application must be submitted no later than June 1st two years prior to August 1st of the year in which the institution wishes to reclassify as FBS (NCAA Bylaw"

The study also finds that it would cost about $42 million to $49 million for practice facilities and to make needed renovations to Cessna Stadium. Plus, the university would have to spend millions more on coaching salaries, equipment, recruiting and more.

For the first several years, the university wouldn't make any money on football and a few years after that, the revenue wouldn't come close to the expense. Boatright said that's okay.

"Well you have to start somewhere," he said. "And there would be years of building the football program where you wouldn't have games and and have the opportunity to create revenue. There would be two or three years with no games played. So that's just part for the process of the ramp up, if you will."

There's also some Title IX requirements, which is a mandate that universities must give equal opportunity to men and women. Boatright said for WSU, that would likely mean adding a women's sport.

"We would look at interest and things that are of immediate interest here on campus and we can look at our club sports to determine that," Boatright said.

"I know we have a very popular bowling program here. I know we have a popular crew, rowing club level sport here on campus so we'd have to look at those things. We also have a swimming and diving well here on campus that is not being utilized for NCAA sports right now so we have several different options that have already been through the thought process," he said.

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Eyewitness News also talked with area community college football coaches about their opinions on whether bringing back Shocker football is a good idea. Among those voicing optimism for the idea is Hutchinson Community College Coach Rion Rhoades.

Rhoades says the positives WSU's football program would bring to Kansas and the region would outweigh the challenges.

"I see it as a huge positive. I think it would help our program at Hutch and community college football in the state," he said.