With eye on the big time, Texas State considers move to next level in NCAA
EDITOR’s NOTE: On Monday, Texas State’s Associated Student Government voted to call a referendum to consider athletic fee increases to help fund a move to NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly called Division I-A. On Feb. 12 and 13, students will vote whether to increase the fee from per semester credit hour to $20 by 2013.
SPORTS COMMENTARY by GABE REYNOLDS
Nine months ago, Texas State University President Denise Trauth created the Athletic Strategic Planning Committee. The committee, composed of current students, alumni, and university staff, was charged with the task of reviewing the Department of Athletics’ Strategic Plan for the next 5 years, with a particular interest in evaluating the feasibility of the football program moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
As the seventh largest university in Texas and the 63rd largest university in the nation, Texas State University has found itself at a crossroads. Every single athletic program at the University competes at the highest level except for one: football. While football continues to thrive across the nation from pee wee football all the way up to the National Football League, Texas State’s athletic department has lagged behind, but could this all change?
On Monday, the Associated Student Government President, Reagan Pugh brought a bill before the student senate. The bill calls for a student referendum and formal endorsement of an increase in student service fees in preparation for a move up to FBS football. On Feb. 12-13, the student body will vote on the proposed increase.
The push for Texas State University to shift to FBS football predates both the names Texas State and FBS. Under President Jerome Supple (of then Southwest Texas State University) the school made its first significant push to jump to FBS football, in 2000. Of course, then it was called Division 1-A. At the urging of the student body, Dr. Supple attained the blessing of the Board of Regents to hire Carr Sports Associates. The task for CSA was similar to the Athletic Strategic Planning Committee’s; they were to assess the feasibility of Southwest Texas State moving to D1-A. Unfortunately, in October of that year the NCAA changed some of the criteria to make the leap, and SWT’s momentum was stifled.
After several years, a name change, and a successful 2005 football season, the talk of making the move to college football’s highest division started to resurface. Last spring, all of the chatter reached its peak with the alumni driven, community movement that came to be known as D1 by June 1. Ultimately, the push was unsuccessful. And to add insult to injury, the NCAA announced a 4 year moratorium on applications from universities hoping to shift to FBS. However, despite the administration’s reluctance to rush into a commitment to FBS football, the momentum from D1 by June 1 carried on.
In November 2007, Dr. Trauth’s committee released its final report. The report provides a clear plan for the structural and financial assent of the athletic program to the FBS level. For the first time since president Supple’s era, FBS football appears within reach for Texas State. The Athletic Strategic Planning Committee’s final assessment is that the University “should now declare its intention to move to FBS football competition after the current four-year NCAA moratorium is lifted.”
While Monday’s ASG vote might feel like the culmination of a great deal of effort, it is just the beginning of a journey that will certainly be beset with plenty of obstacles. Thankfully, though, more than any other time in the University’s history, alumni, administration, and the student body appear to all be pulling in the same direction. Dr. Trauth told the Associated Student
Government that she was “linking arms” with them in a sign of solidarity in preparation for all of the hard work to come.
COVER PHOTO AND ABOVE: Courtney Smith a junior from Round Rock holds his helment high after a 52-29 victory over Stephen F. Austin. A disappointing season did not dampen enthusiasm for an effort to move Texas State to NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly called Division I. MARK DECKER for NEWSTREAMZ