Sept. 29, 2014
One of the most frequently asked questions on campus is when UCCS will get a football team.
Hold up: it takes more than wishful thinking to add a collegiate sport.
“We don’t sponsor football,” said athletic director Steve Kirkham. “Our budget is $2 million and a good division II football team is $2 million. We would have to double our budget.”
Despite the presence of Mountain Lion Stadium, constructing a team with over 70 athletes and adding five coaches’ offices to the already cramped athletic offices might break the bank account.
“When I got here ten years ago, we really wanted to make the sports programs here as competitive as possible,” said Kirkham. “We were poorly funded at the time and we have come a long way.”
When adding a sport to UCCS, there are three items of business that go into the decision: student demand (which plays a major role), the university’s budget (which has to be adequate) and constructing the team.
Adding a collegiate sport requires funding and if the addition of a program is timed poorly, a currently successful program could take a budget cut, which could result in less scholarship money.
In compliance with Title IX, the university currently has five men’s sports and seven women’s sports. Title IX compliance would be needed to add another sport.
“Title IX determines each school’s competitive region. Ours is a circle of 436 miles. In that region what sports are sponsored that wouldn’t put a burden on the university travel wise,” explained Kirkham.
The most recent addition to the Mountain Lion athletic program was women’s golf in fall 2013. Head coach Sadie Farnsworth was hired in May 2013, giving her time to sign and hire necessary players and coaches for success.
Kirkham believes that time was critical.
“We’ve done it smarter here,” Kirkham said. “In both golf and soccer we hired a coach, gave them their budget, and started the process. A lot of other programs start playing that season.”
In the state of Colorado, high school wrestling is one of the most popular sports and is a possible addition here.
“Wrestling is something we’ve looked at very closely,” Kirkham said. “We’re one of the biggest wrestling conferences in Division II. The Colorado state high school wrestling tournament is the most number one attended wrestling event in the country.”
But as with all possible additions, funding is the main issue.
With collegiate wrestling, a proper gym is needed. Temperature, lighting, and even ceiling fixtures and height come into the equation.
College sports, unless ranked in the top conferences at Division I schools, don’t make much profit.
“In Division II athletics, even at the very best programs, basketball or football don’t make much money,” Kirkham said.