Students Show High Demand for UT Football

By: John McCormick Jr.

The University of Tampa has hundreds of student-athletes that participate in various kinds of sports. There is one college sport that is missing, though, and that is football.

Football is a huge part of many colleges around the country as it draws a high percentage of students to come out and support. They beg the question many UT students have is why does our school not have a football team?

“When I first got hired, President Vaughn wanted me to take a look at bringing back football; we used to have good football here,” said Larry Marfise, athletic director at UT. “I got back to President Vaughn after a good study on it, but it was simply too expensive.

The reason why the school dropped the program so many years ago was due to the issues the football team had.

“We would go to games in Texas or Louisiana and pick up semi-pro players along the way,” said Sam Bailey, former head coach, and athletic director at UT, who recently passed away. 

Twenty years ago, the campus was not as updated and had half as many academic buildings. This would have allowed for space to accommodate practice fields and facilities for a football program. 

“In today’s dollars, the amount of money to build a football program from the ground up, and this is not an exaggeration, cost nearly $80 million,” said Marfise. “It would take about three years to build facilities and have a complete team.” 

UT has accepted more freshmen than usual this year as the expansion of academic and housing buildings continues for a bigger and brighter future. 

This allows many people to speculate where all of the extra funds go. The answer is all of the recent construction students are seeing on campus. 

There has been speculation that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the main reason why there is no football team. This “rumor” is simply not true as there is no information that has been found to make that point valid. 

A survey by The Minaret of 100 UT students around the campus gave some insight on if students would even want a football team.

96% of active students agreed that there should be a football team, and of that 96%, 18% of those students said that they would play given the opportunity. 

“I would definitely play if there was a football program here,” said Tim Weber, sophomore finance major. “I wish I could have continued my football career here; I feel as if there is a big market for one here.”

Football allows for tailgating and events for sororities and fraternities, which would also lead to many alumni returning to come to see the games on Saturday. Many sports on campus, unfortunately, do not bring out massive crowds of UT students, and the assumption would be that football can and would. 

If money were not an issue, another question appears, which is whom we would play? Many Division 2 football programs are hours away, which would cause a decline in profit.

The state of Florida has a big market for football as there are many universities, but the majority of them are Division 1. The cost to have our sports phase up into D1 athletics would cost the university up to $20 million each year, which includes scholarships, apparel, food, and more.

As time progresses, it is possible the school will expand to a point where there will be an even larger want for a football team, but as of now, it is not feasible.

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