CSU football just a dream
Football program unable to become reality without students' votes
It's difficult to think of a college with "University" in its name that lacks a football program - a school moneymaker filling students with pride and urging them to wear their university's name on their chests.
It's easy to get lost in a sea of green and white around campus, and the pride that Cleveland State University students have runs deep. But many have longed for a football team to hit Vikings territory for quite some time, and what students aren't aware of is that in 2009, it could've happened with students' votes.
Merely a dream of former CSU president Michael Schwartz to have a football team represent the school, he attempted to make it a reality by forming a football committee in an effort to acquire a football team with the help of former athletic director Lee Reed.
According to committee member and political science professor Joel Lieske, the group consisted of nine or 10 community leaders, businessmen and CSU alumni who all agreed that a football program would add to campus culture.
"We wanted to do all that we could to make this a student-friendly university where students feel that they're part of a community," Lieske said.
As expected, a grocery list of problems arose in the process.
"What most of us didn't realize is there's no free lunch in life, and football programs cost money," Lieske said.
Firstly, there must be games on campus. According to Lieske, retrofitting Krenzler Field to accommodate locker rooms and showers would cost $9-12 million alone. Throw on operating costs, the payrolls of coaches and other staff, and the only way it could be achieved is by charging students.
Programs can only pay for themelsves by making it an elite and top flight conference. With many alternative professional sports already present in Cleveland, CSU football may not draw enough excitement.
Other schools in the Horizon League, such as Butler, are private universities that generate the income for the program to be a money maker. On average, 5,000 fans crowd Hinchliffe Stadium at Butler. With tuition at $38,000 per year, the program pays for itself by generating a net income of $2.5 million. This is obviously not an option for CSU.
Lieske explained that students would have to be charged $5 extra per credit hour on their tuition to operate the program, and although the majority were in favor of the idea of the program, they did not feel the benefits outweighed the costs.
"We couldn't push forward...there wasn't support when it came time to vote," Lieske said. "It's fully understandable - it would be another cost to our students who are stretched tighter than a drum in this sour economy. We came to the conclusion that football was a luxury that no one could really afford."
Currently, CSU football is still a dreary dream after one step through the door took 10 steps back. Lieske, however, believes that talks of a football team can still heat up. It solely depends on the students.
"I think we can pull it off," Lieske said. "But the demand would have to come from the student body."
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