Review of Wichita State athletics considers football
Wichita The complete review of the Wichita State University athletics department is underway and one of the many subjects is whether to resume a football program, president John Bardo said.
Bardo and deputy athletic director Darron Boatright are in the early stages of the department review and decisions about its future could take up to a year, The Wichita Eagle reported. Besides the football question, other topics will include conference affiliation, other sports and facilities.
"Everything is on the table," Bardo said. "The sports we offer, facilities, conferences. This is about the university, and its ability to support the community and support our students."
Bardo, Wichita State president since 2012, sees athletics as a tool to help his priorities of improving student life and helping Wichita's growth and prosperity. He said the fall months are crucial for making a good impression on students and athletics might help.
"Maybe football's an answer, maybe soccer's an answer," he said. "This is not about football. This is about who we are and what we can do."
The university dropped football after the 1986 season, citing budget problems, community apathy and poor attendance. Reviving the program was last seriously discussed in 1998, when a committee recommended starting a program again but large corporations and prospective major donors recommended that the school concentrate on basketball and baseball.
A football program would require millions in facilities, including a new stadium, and might require adding women's sports under Title IX.
Bardo said the football question has been "lingering way too long" at Wichita State.
"We need to be very straight on, 'Here's what it takes to do it, here's what it means, here's what others are doing.' And if people say, 'Yeah, that's what we want to do,' that's great. If people say 'We have no interest in that, we're not willing to support it,' then we know the answer," he said.
Wichita State's athletics budget is around $18 million and Bardo estimates adding football that would be competitive at the highest levels would cost an additional $13 million.