Athletics is made up of nearly 400 student-athletes, 48 head coaches and assistants, and more than 70 administrators and contractors working tirelessly to educate, support and promote UTSA student-athletes. We are a $23 million a year business that must stand on our own financially with no state or federal tax support. We operate as a business unit under the careful oversight of Student Affairs and the University. The administrative staff provides many of the same services found within the total University—business affairs, communications, academic services, facilities, compliance, marketing, development and external affairs. We also must provide unique services like strength and conditioning, ticket administration, equipment management and athletics medicine. Then there are outside contractors that assist in our mission with sponsorship sales, ticket sales, merchandise sales, social media coordination, web site management and public relations.
This academic year, all 17 UTSA men’s and women’s sports programs enter their first seasons in Conference USA, a group of 12 schools with rich academic and athletic traditions. C-USA is our third conference affiliation in three years. In only the third season of football, we play arguably the toughest non-conference football schedule of any NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team in Texas. This rapid move up the NCAA competitive ladder is completely in line with the mission and purpose of the UTSA Athletics Department.
Identifying and securing additional revenue to enhance facilities is our most pressing current business objective. To be competitive in C-USA and attract top student-athletes, we must upgrade our facilities. Football will move this fall from a high school stadium to temporary locker rooms on the Main Campus and will practice on recently constructed recreation fields. Track and soccer will move into new competition and practice facilities this fall, but will locker and use coaches’ offices in trailers on the new Park West Campus. A recently completed study of C-USA facilities shows the Alamodome at the top of the conference’s football stadiums. And the newly constructed soccer and track stadiums are among the best in the conference. But most other UTSA game and practice facilities need improvement.
Our mission as an Athletic Department is to provide an environment where student-athletes can be successful academically, athletically and socially. Two thirds of that mission has nothing to do with winning and losing. It has everything to do with developing educated men and women prepared for life after graduation. Athletic competition, the other third of our mission, has three primary purposes: 1. Provide fun, affordable entertainment to the University and surrounding community; 2. Build pride and tradition among students and alumni; and 3. Build equity in a UTSA degree.
Introducing football to our campus and moving to C-USA helps to fulfill our purpose. Through our first two football seasons, UTSA averaged more than 30,000 fans at home games. Those attending Roadrunners games in the Alamodome certainly seem to be having fun. If UTSA pride can be measured by licensed merchandise sold at games and in retail outlets, twice as many people are proud to be Roadrunners as just five years ago. Equity in a UTSA degree is probably our most important purpose and hardest to measure. All 12 UTSA football games appearing on national, regional or local television this season can only help build recognition of our University, its 31,000 students and nearly 100,000 alumni.
In a recent San Antonio Business Journal article, UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo summed up the introduction of football and move up to C-USA. “I can’t imagine UTSA without football. It has transformed not only UTSA, but our city as a whole. The Roadrunners truly are San Antonio’s team, and that’s been demonstrated again and again by the outpouring of support from the community,” Dr. Romo said. “School spirit has skyrocketed, campus life is booming and the value of a UTSA degree is worth more than ever before. Today, when you say UTSA, people think ‘top-tier’ and football has helped us earn that reputation.”