By Brad Parrott
Associate Director of Athletics
(Sept. 10, 2007)--On Sept. 11 and 12, current UTSA students can vote on a student referendum to increase athletic fees. Increased fees would be used to take Roadrunner Athletics to the next level of NCAA competition.
Possible improvements include new athletic facilities, the addition of football and eventually a move to a new conference. View a YouTube video, "UTSA Student Referendum."
Following are often-asked questions about the student referendum and potential Athletics Department improvements.
Q. How much will athletic fees increase?
A. The referendum would authorize increasing athletics fees over the next several years from a current maximum of $120 per semester to a maximum of $240 per semester. Each student now pays $10 per hour for the first 12 credit hours each semester. Athletics fees are charged only on 12 hours per semester; therefore, the fee currently is capped at $120 per semester.
If the student referendum passes, athletics fees would increase over at least five years to no more than $20 per hour. Annual increases would be $2 or less. UTSA administration and the University of Texas System Board of Regents must approve the increases. How quickly the fees increase would be determined by a number of factors, including when UTSA Athletics implements new sports, construction of new facilities and an opportunity to move to a new conference.
Q. What conference is UTSA moving to?
A. An invitation would come from a conference; currently no conference has invited UTSA to join. The Division 1A conferences that may be attainable by UTSA during the next 10 years are the Sun Belt Conference, Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and Conference USA. Conference USA is the most prestigious and attractive with nearby opponents Houston, Rice, SMU, UTEP, Tulsa and Tulane in its western division.
Q. When will UTSA start playing football?
A. The best-case timeline published in the recent UTSA Athletics Feasibility Study has UTSA playing its first game three years after the decision is made to begin a football program. If and when the decision is made to play football depends on several factors.
In addition to passing the Sept. 11-12 student referendum, UTSA football must be approved by the UTSA administration and the UT System Board of Regents. The Athletics Department also must raise several million dollars to help fund football; significant community support would be required to support a football program . As soon as students approve the referendum, the UTSA president would ask the board of regents to approve the increases, donations must be secured and then a coach would be hired to establish the program.
Q. How much would students pay for football tickets?
A. The Athletics Department expects that students would be admitted to home regular-season football games free with their student IDs. That's how it is today at all on-campus, regular-season UTSA athletics events. Even though it is likely UTSA would plans to play its home football games in the Alamodome, Athletics would plan to admit students to games at no charge as a result of paying athletics fees.
Q. Who would UTSA play in football?
A. Based upon what other Division 1 schools have done when they began football programs, UTSA probably would begin playing Division 1-AA and Division II schools such as Texas State, Nichols State, Midwestern, Texas A&M-Kingsville and others. After a few years, Athletics would hope to begin playing bigger schools on the road such as Texas Tech, Kansas State, Minnesota and others. If UTSA moved into a new conference, it would play that conference's member schools such as Houston, Rice, SMU and UTEP in Conference USA.
Q. Why do students have to pay athletic fees if they don't go to the games?
A. The athletics fee is similar to the library, medical services, University Center, Recreation Center and other fees. All students pay to cover the costs of these services whether they use them or not. In return for paying athletics fees, the UTSA Athletics Department makes three promises to students -- to provide fun, affordable entertainment; build pride and tradition in UTSA and increase equity in a UTSA degree. Students receive benefits from these promises while in school and after graduation even if they don't attend athletics events.
Q. What will be included in a Convocation Center renovation?
A. The renovation will include a new ticket office, merchandise shop, concessions and lobby area, academic center, locker rooms, weight room, training room and coaches' offices. The basketball and volleyball teams will remain in the Convocation Center. Plans call for other varsity teams to move to the new Competitive Athletics Complex.
Q. When will the Competitive Athletics Complex and Convocation Center be completed?
A. Plans call for both of these projects to be funded by public funds and private donations. The Athletics Department staff is fundraising now. The soonest that these new facilities could be completed would be two to three years after fundraising is completed.
Q. How do UTSA students vote on the athletics fee referendum?
A. All enrolled UTSA students can vote online Sept. 11-12 using the ASAP information system. Select "Vote Now for the SGA Election!" on the main menu.
Q. Does the UTSA administration support the addition of football?
A. The administration is willing to consider the addition of football. It must be assured that financial and other concerns are thoroughly considered and addressed before plans for football are announced. The Sept. 11-12 referendum is an important step in these considerations, but it certainly is not the last step. UT System Board of Regents approval, an appropriate level of donations and other considerations must be addressed before firm football plans can be announced.