George Mason and big-time football (one more time)

From the Washington Post April 5, 2012:

George Mason University carved its way into the national (sports) consciousness with its basketball team’s amazing run to the NCAA Final Four a few years back. So why not a team of bruising Patriots playing high-level NCAA football, shooting for a BCS bowl and hopping from conference to conference every few years?

It’s a frequently asked question in Fairfax. In fact, when new GMU president Angel Cabrera made his first appearance after being hired, one of the questions from the press was about his position on football. The school now has an enrollment of 33,000, competes at the highest level in other sports, and is located in the second wealthiest county in America.

Probably not going to happen. In this well-reported article by James Hoin the Broadside student newspaper, athletic director Tom O’Connor lays out a number of obstacles, but primarily, well, money. “Cost is the biggest issue,” O’Connor told Ho. “It is very costly to be successful in a spectator sport like football.”

O’Connor provides some very interesting statistics. For one, playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), the costs of fielding a team alone would be $30 million. Then you’d need a 40,000-seat stadium. That’s another $170 million. Student fees to pay for all this would be raised to $1,252 for an FBS team, Ho reports. One could see some opposition among students and parents to that little financial assessment.

In order to comply with federal Title IX rules on gender equality, the school would either have to eliminate some mens’ sports or add women’s. They would add teams, Ho said, increasing the cost. And an NCAA report said that only 14 of 120 FBS schools made a profit on sports. Read the rest of Ho’s story here, and resign yourself to having to root for the same old JMU-Va.Tech-U.Va.-William & Mary squads again.

To this I will only add a factoid: GMU and VCU are rumored to be negotiating a move to the Atlantic 10 conference.  This would mean a fantastic basketball schedule, including regular match-ups with our neighbor George Washington, but also teams like Xavier, St. Joseph’s, Duquesne, Fordham, LaSalle, and many others.  It also means that the GMU AD is decidedly moving away from football, as the Atlantic 10 is NOT a football conference.

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