Super Bowl Sunday is here, and with it comes the end of the football season. For Utah Valley and the Western Athletic Conference, this year brought big news for the future, as the WAC announced it will be adding five members — including in-state rival Southern Utah — and that the conference will bring college football back. For UVU, this means tougher competition in its main sports, though the school will not compete in football. With WAC football and conference expansion on the horizon, we asked the UVU community and athletic administration to weigh in with their thoughts on the potential for UVU to add football.
A big issue repeatedly brought up was the cost involved.
“It’s not really worth it simply due to constructing a stadium and its impact on fees and tuition,” said Gio, a junior at UVU. “Additionally, the school would have to attract a top coaching staff and top players.”
Tyler, a senior, echoed this sentiment and noted the negative impact a program could have on other areas of UVU. “Although a football team would increase our school’s notoriety and may serve as a form of advertisement, I feel this would be a very poor investment for our school. While football teams are associated with many very recognizable universities, only the very top universities earn money from their teams, or get much in the way of recognition. A football program would be costly, and take away focus from other elements of our university that would go much further to improving the experience and prospects for our students. For example, the university would benefit much more from the development of our testing center, which most students agree is below standards.”
There was support to be found for a program. “UVU is one of the largest schools in the country that doesn’t have a football program,” said Daniel, a recent alum. “People worry about the costs or sustainability of football programs, but if smaller schools can manage it, then I believe we could. I don’t think it would mess up the ecosystem of such a large, well-funded, and successful school.” He went on to point out that UVU football could serve as a feeder program for athletes and utilize its pass-through role.
Finally, we spoke with deputy athletic director Chad Foote on the WAC expansion, and he was enthusiastic. “We want the WAC to be the best conference,” he said. “Expansion can help solidify the conference and create a competitive atmosphere that will help our teams compete at the national level. If SUU is added to the WAC, we would welcome it. It would be great for our fans to have another in-state school that they could watch us play against. In my experience, in-state rivalries make up some of the best rivalries in college athletics. It is something fans and student athletes get excited about.”
“Based on my understanding, there has always been a lot of interest from the student body to have a football team,” he added. “As an administration, we are not opposed to it, but it has to make sense for us financially. Adding sports can be extremely expensive, so we would need to make sure the financial resources are in place before we start a football program.”