North Texas Daily

Opinion: Darnell’s Declaration: UNT has a football problem

Opinion: Darnell’s Declaration: UNT has a football problem

February 12
21:46 2013

Will Darnell / Intern

UNT is masquerading as a Texas football factory and the university must decide whether it wants to keep the reputation of a solid, growing academic university or if it wants to be a part of the willful harm of student athletes and its long term future alike.

UNT has a social and practical obligation to its students, faculty, fans and alumni.

Money

Schools that are supremely successful in football become national powerhouses and make tons of money.

The key to that statement is defining supreme success and what it takes to attain that level of success. The top athletic department in 2011, in terms of revenue, was the University of Texas with more than $160 million. UNT’s revenue in the same time period was under $18 million, according to the office of postsecondary education of the Department of Education.

From a practical standpoint, in order to reach the levels of national or even in-state prominence, UNT would have to increase its revenue by several times.

Many have signaled the upcoming move to Conference USA as a steppingstone in the development of UNT football. This is simply untrue. The University of Houston – a university which has had a much more successful past five years despite a similar budget – and other schools formerly of C-USA are leaving to join the Big East.

Basically, C-USA is the new Sun Belt Conference. UNT still remains $100 million in revenue short of national prominence and is stuck in neutral on the academic front.

Since the first game in Apogee Stadium in 2011, the Mean Green football team has won nine games. The stadium stands like a $79 million albatross built to keep pace in a football stadium arms race and it is extremely symptomatic of pre-recession excess.

Believing that a new stadium or moving to a new conference will somehow fuel success and excitement is purely 20th century thinking.  UNT made a mistake in building Apogee and now it needs to decide whether or not to compound that mistake by continuing to expose itself to the risks associated with football.

UNT can be a great university and funneling money into a losing football program is nothing but a hindrance to that goal.

Safety

A university employed with the nurturing and teaching of generations of young men should not willingly subject them to the amount of risk that football entails.

Football has always been, and will always be, a dangerous game. The dangers are inherent and every player tacitly accepts that he will suffer bodily harm while playing. However, the evidence linking the violent collisions of football to concussion-related brain trauma and syndromes is too strong to simply cast aside in the same breath as broken ribs or a separated shoulder.

National Football League players, such as retired players Dave Duerson, Andre Webster and Junior Seau, and players in the midst of their career like Chris Henry were diagnosed after death with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a brain condition caused by repeated trauma to the head, found most often in former football and hockey players. The disease is diagnosed post-mortem, and symptoms include dementia, memory loss, aggression and depression.

Due to the growing issue of liability and the personal safety of participants, football has an expiration date. Whether it’s ten years from now or 50 is debatable, but countless experts predict that, within this generation, the game that millions love and cherish will cease to exist.

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22 Comments

  1. Austin Milner
    Austin Milner February 12, 23:10

    Good grief, did you ever make a solid conclusion in this article? Comparing UNT to Texas in revenue is absolutely ridiculous. When Texas plays schools like Kansas, and Oklahoma, it draws fans attention and attendance. When UNT plays schools like ULL or Monroe, schools that nobody has heard of — nobody cares, thus leading to a drop in revenue/attendance/attention/importance. Moving to CUSA will dramatically help all of those issues.

    Conference USA is not the new Sun Belt – there are still many teams from “old” CUSA that are in the “new” CUSA. For example, we will be playing THREE Texas football teams next year. We only played 1 last year (Texas Southern, 1AA) and Houston the year before. This is a massive improvement and will lead to more revenue and attendance.

    Reply to this comment
  2. MDH
    MDH February 12, 23:42

    I believe you have a journalism problem.

    If college sports only consisted of programs that made money and that were safe you’d have….well, probably Duke and UNC hoops playing each other in hoops.

    Sports are a part of the fabric of college life. If you don’t agree with it I suggest you transfer to Austin College. Wait, but they have sports too…crap.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Riojas
    Riojas February 12, 23:54

    It sounds more like you’re comparing the maybourne school of journalism with UT’s journalism school. UNT football has grown, become much more prominent, and has provided a path for success and education for thousands of student athletes. What has the journalism school done besides become a liability? How’s that full ride journalism scholarship working for you?

    Reply to this comment
  4. God
    God February 13, 00:20

    Will,
    Walk into on-coming traffic.
    That is all.

    God

    Reply to this comment
  5. Jeff Gill
    Jeff Gill February 13, 01:09

    I’m guessing that no one ever informed you that hard drugs are even more dangerous than football. Ludicrous article.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Christopher Fisher
    Christopher Fisher February 13, 06:12

    NT Daily has a sports editor/intern problem.

    Reply to this comment
    • Joshua Sachs
      Joshua Sachs February 13, 11:46

      Could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the sports editor just posts the stories on the web site. This guy is an intern. That means he can write whatever he pleases to get angry comments I guess….

      Reply to this comment
  7. Agreed
    Agreed February 13, 06:24

    Will,
    You sir are one ballsy SOB.
    I agree with you 100%.
    There is no reason UNT should funnel money into such a drain.
    Loosing teams have only brought negative viewpoints to the university.
    Don’t listen to these fools.

    -Agreed

    Reply to this comment
  8. Eddie
    Eddie February 13, 07:38

    We’re much worse at Basketball than we used to be. Lots of out players have gotten hurt this season. Should we cancel basketball as well?

    Reply to this comment
  9. K
    K February 13, 07:48

    Agreed,

    You misspelled losing.

    Reply to this comment
  10. MG2010
    MG2010 February 13, 07:53

    And I wouldn’t have come to UNT if they did not have and FBS football team. I won’t even mention how much more I will donate to the academic side of the school throughout the rest of my life than most liberal arts majors who won’t care enough to give back to their alma mater.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Alum
    Alum February 13, 08:40

    The only real reason I ever step foot back on campus or donate money to the school is the athletic programs – football included. Will Darnell’s view is myopic at best and plain blind at worst.

    Reply to this comment
  12. JD
    JD February 13, 08:53

    Will,

    With all due respect, the poor writing skills on display in this article show how much UNT is failing to educate someone they have given the title of Sports Editor. The uneducated continue to claim UNT is pouring money into athletics while the educated realize that athletics can only be funded through private donations and student fees. The educated also understand the difference between “loose” and “lose.”

    Athletics, and football in particular, bring alumni back to the university. I live roughly six hours away and would rarely set foot on campus if it wasn’t for the football games in the fall. These games provide a venue for alumni like myself to come back to campus, reconnect with professors, fellow alumni and current students and lead to us giving back to North Texas. Will North Texas ever be on the level of UT? Probably not, but that should not be our goal. CUSA provides North Texas with a regional conference that will reduce travel costs, allow fans to travel to games and increases our stature in the eyes of the nation.

    I would recommend taking the time to write an article/editorial about how we can increase our support of the young men and women that play sports for our school and how this support will increase support across campus. Go Mean Green!

    Reply to this comment
  13. Joe
    Joe February 13, 11:30

    In short…..

    “I don’t like football and you shouldn’t either….because it is scary….expensive….and dangerous. You should sit in your dorm and read Voltaire on Saturdays instead… that way you can spit random quotes and come across as pseudo-intellectual. Or you can be like me and play with dolls”

    what a load of cr@p.

    Reply to this comment
  14. GoMeanGreen.com
    GoMeanGreen.com February 13, 12:29

    Here are just a few opinions from the Alumni site:

    You have the right to your opinion but as a former student and supporter of UNT I think you are way off base!!

    http://www.gomeangreen.com/forums/topic/80735-will-darnell-unt-has-a-football-problem/

    I think your article shows a complete lack of research and knowledge about the subject. So because we don’t receive the funding of a UT or A&M we should just close up shop and accept our place in the world? Where’s your pride? We have every opportunity to be successful in athletics which will raise the profile of the school we all care about! GMG!

    Reply to this comment
  15. NTDailySucks
    NTDailySucks February 13, 13:57

    The NT Daily remains the biggest joke on campus.

    Reply to this comment
  16. BC
    BC February 14, 00:45

    18 comments, 0 specifics. No surprises.

    The funny part is that with all this complaining about bad journalism, there’s actually only one thing he got wrong: In 2011, that $18 million was actually UNT’s expenditures. It only managed $11 million in revenue, according to a database here.

    It’s also worth noting that of that $11 million, $5 million is actually funds from student fees, which is like counting your own investment as profit.

    You’re going to hear the same few talking points over and over again, Will; trust me, I’ve been hearing them since I first wrote about this in 2007. But the bottom line is that the numbers don’t lie, and to make your university a better one, you’re going to have to address the obvious problems.
    -BC

    Reply to this comment
  17. K
    K February 15, 12:05

    BC,

    No specifics? Some of these comments ask very specific questions that highlight the flawed logic behind Will’s entire premise. This article is what happens when pseudo-intellectual ‘journalism’ majors take a stab at governmental accounting.

    Reply to this comment
    • BC
      BC February 16, 00:27

      Really, no specifics. No one offered any direct retort for the information he presented, despite claims of “bad journalism”, “lack of research”, ad nauseam. That’s because no one knows the actual numbers, and they’re not interested in the facts and figures; they’re interested on conjecture, assuming things like “CUSA will change our financial fortunes” (much as a new football coach and stadium were meant to). Or wonky logic like “well your journalism program doesn’t make money either”. That doesn’t really make any sense, since the journalism department is an academic department; It actually fulfills the goal of an education institution directly.

      Or like JD’s post, which contradicts itself: He says the “unedcuated” claim we’re pouring more money but the “educated” know it comes from student fees. Did we not just raise that fee substantially? So yes, we are pouring more money into it. The 2013 2013 budget summary for the school (page 45) shows that UNT plans to spend $25 million on athletics, about $6 million more than last year’s total of $18,935,422. So yes, we’re pouring more money in. I don’t see how the source of funds somehow nullifies that fact.

      Many of the other claims are simply anecdotal and not based on historical trends and studies. For a list of studies showing the real effects on the factors mentioned, click here. Everyone else just makes ad hominem arguments.
      -BC

      Reply to this comment
  18. Chris
    Chris February 16, 23:53

    To BC and the author,

    Neither one of you have any inkling of understanding the landscape of college sports. For some reason, you (and everyone else that seems to support giving football the ax at XYZ University because they don’t roll in 9-figure profits…) always seem to go to the hiring of Dan McCarney and the building of Apogee and talk about how they have been failures that haven’t changed anything about the financial state of our athletics department. This is so seriously flawed that, honestly, it causes any other argument you make to be entirely moot because you’ve lost any ethos you had going for you when you said this.

    Want to see a difference in the financial outlook of the football program? It’s simple. WIN. Winning solves everything. If we were to hypothetically win 10 games each of the next 5 years, Apogee would be sold out every game, and we’d be talking expansion to the stadium.

    But…how does one win in college football? Simple. There are two factors: recruiting, and coaching. This is where the hiring of Dan McCarney comes in. He’s an excellent football coach who turned Iowa State from a nobody program (much like UNT) to a well-respected team in a major conference that is a regular participant in bowl games. He’s shown that he can do it, and he’ll do it here too.

    Recruiting is tied into coaching, because it’s the coaches that recruit. This is one key because, well, this is how you get players. But, unfortunately, it takes time to do this. Even if you were to pull off a ridiculous recruiting class at the level of an A&M or UT-Austin, these freshmen aren’t going to make an impact immediately that we’ll see in the W/L columns. And that type of recruiting class is incredibly unrealistic to shoot for here at UNT anyways. McCarney has done an excellent job of recruiting, and finally, this season, we’ll have some of his recruits entering their second year of having substantial playing time. But the majority of this team is still made up of players from the previous coaching regime, who was without argument the worst football coach in the history of this state, let alone university. McCarney picked up an empty program and has won 9 games in two seasons, compared to the previous coaches grand total of 6 wins in 43 games.

    This whole process takes an incredible amount of time. Apogee boosts student pride and attendance, and you can see that when you look at student attendance figures from pre-2011 and compare it to the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Apogee helps recruiting in ways you can never even imagine, because Fouts is a DUMP that no 18 year old who is a superstar in his own mind will want to play at (nevermind its total electrical inefficiency…), and Apogee is a state-of-the-art, beautiful stadium that you should be PROUD of, not looking at as a mistake. The building of Apogee wasn’t a magic cure-all that would infuse UNT’s football roster with All-Americans, however, like you seem to have expected it to be.

    The move to C-USA is also not a status quo move. There are two important things to look at with this move. One: We escaped the sinking ship that is the Sun Belt before it actually sinks. Two: C-USA has a much higher shared revenue agreement and makes much more money off of TV deals….and we also get 3 in-state rivals as opposed to the ZERO we had in the Sun Belt (we also keep our footprint in Louisiana, and add an Oklahoma rival). This will drive attendance wayyyy up.

    Give McCarney time. Give Apogee time. Two years is not enough to see a financial change. You’ll see that change in a few years when we’re winning C-USA championships and are regularly flirting with the AP top 25 poll, because that’s when we’ll be selling out Apogee on a regular basis.

    PS: We’re in line for another nationally televised home game this year. I don’t think that would’ve ever happened at Apogee. National TV=major exposure=$$$$$$$ for your pretty little journalism degree.

    Reply to this comment
  19. FBaller
    FBaller September 24, 14:14

    I don’t think this was a very good opinion piece, but it’s a good conversation to have. Alumni and donations did not build that stadium, which costs students almost a thousand dollars each over the course of their four year education. It was an $80 million construction project. Donations and alumni, sure. I don’t know what the football program itself spends and brings in, but I have a hard time believing it turns a profit. More than likely it is losing money just like most FBS schools. It’s not funding this guy’s journalism department or Title IX sports. Only the biggest programs do that, and UNT Football is light years from being on par Texas or whichever big program you want to point to.

    They should have invested money in something else. Education, maybe. That’s one side of the argument.

    Reply to this comment

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