Almost 40 years ago, budget deficits resulted in the university cutting its American football program, but a resolution was introduced aiming to see if students want to see it return during Tuesday’s Student Senate general body meeting.
At a 1985 conference, former UTA President Wendell Nedderman announced the decision to kill the program, citing budget deficits caused in part by low attendance and lack of revenue, according to previous Shorthorn reporting.
Resolution 22-21, “Once And For All, Football,” wants to hold a referendum during the upcoming campus elections to ask students if the university should raise the Intercollegiate Athletics Fee by $500 a year to establish an NCAA Division I Collegiate Football program, according to the resolution.
Currently, the Intercollegiate Athletics Fee is $8.50 per credit hour, capping at $115, according to the university’s website.
As of Fall 2022, UTA has an estimated enrollment of 40,990 students, according to previous Shorthorn reporting. That makes it one of the only universities of its size in the nation without an American football program, the resolution states.
Student Government released a poll asking students their thoughts on bringing NCAA Division I Football back to UTA and posted the results on Instagram. Out of 625 responses, 92.8% responded yes and 7.2% responded no.
In the same poll, when asked if they’d be willing to pay $400-$500 more a year to establish it, 76.24% of 627 responded yes. Those who answered “no,” were then given other money ranges to choose from and were asked how much more they’d be willing to pay. 57.31% of 171 students responded with “none.”
Dylan Buck, student body vice president and author of the resolution, said passing this resolution wouldn’t mean it would be implemented. Instead, the resolution hopes to gauge interest by allowing the student body to vote on whether or not a college American football team is something they’re interested in.
Buck said if an American football team is established, there would also have to be another team created for women-identifying athletes, such as women’s soccer or women’s swimming.
Although Matthew Swingler, College of Engineering senator, supports the resolution, he said he worries about the cost of the program. He said the basketball team has shown there are good sports opportunities at the university, but putting money into a Division I team could drive students away.
This isn’t the first time the American football team’s revival has been discussed. During a UTA Staff Advisory Council President’s forum in 2018, former UTA President Vistasp Karbhari spoke about the possibility of the program returning. He said it would cost upwards of $150 million, resulting in increased student tuition and fees, which wasn’t something he wanted, according to previous Shorthorn reporting.
Two resolutions were also killed during the meeting.
Resolution 22-13, “Replace The Bag Embrace,” called for the university to install and/or repair hooks in bathroom stalls. It was killed because Jeff Johnson, maintenance operations and special projects director, told the Special Affairs committee that a resolution wasn’t necessary because his maintenance workers could fix it.
Resolution 22-12, “Objection Your Honor, Direction,” asked the university to update its map directories to better reflect the buildings and improve legibility. Similarly, Johnson told the committee this is something they’re currently working on. The reason the directories were not updated previously was due to COVID-19.
During an open forum at the beginning of the meeting, Swingler offered his opinion on last week’s UTA chapter of Turning Point USA’s event with speaker Jeff Younger, a former Texas House of Representatives candidate, known for anti-transgender rhetoric. Swingler called for whoever sanctioned the event to apologize and be held accountable.
The event resulted in a demonstration by the Progressive Student Union outside of the University Center, according to previous Shorthorn reporting.
“Accountability must be taken and taken immediately,” Swingler said.