For years, VCU‘s football team- or lack thereof- has been the center of a hot debate among Richmond-ers and VCU alumni. For many years, the hope of a VCU football game was slim; former VCU president Eugene Trani was strongly opposed to the addition of a football team to the school. However, his successor and current president of VCU, Michael Rao, has hinted that he may be looking in to the possibility for the university’s future. Below are some of the pros and cons to adding an official football team to VCU.
Built-in fan base
Virginia Commonwealth University boasts the largest student population of any public university in the state of Virginia at a whopping 35,000 students. Between students and their family and friends, this provides a great foundation for a strong fan base. The support of a fan base would help ensure that the football program produces enough revenue to stay in operation.
Strong alumni ties ease financial burden
VCU has a number of alumni that are willing and able to contribute funds to their alma mater. Many have already pledged their support of VCU‘s formation of a football program. Their donations will help ease the hefty financial burden of assembling the program and allow the university to allocate more funds to particular areas.
Other schools have recently successfully established football programs
Schools like Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, Georgia State in Atlanta, and the University of North Carolina in Charlotte have all recently added a football program to their schools. Each school had similar debates for many years regarding the inclusion of a football program, but so far have experienced relative success.
Distance of proposed stadium site
Some have suggested that the recently vacated City Stadium on the western side of Richmond would be a good site for the (proposed) VCU football stadium. However, this location is 4.2 miles from the Monroe Park Campus. Many students do not have consistent enough transportation to access this location conveniently, which may affect ticket sales.
Raises tuition rates
While many generous alumni could donate to the foundation of a football program, many students would also have to pay to maintain the facilities. This would be completed through increased tuition rates. At other schools where football programs were recently launched, tuition is said to have raised by hundreds of dollars, which is unaffordable for some students attending VCU.
Adding a football team would not reach the requirements set by Title IX.
Title IX is a federal law prohibiting any type of sexual harassment or discrimination. Under that law, there are certain parameters stating the required ratio of male to female sports. The addition of a football program at VCU would unsettle the balance we have found in our athletics program and would require the addition of three new female sports. While it may be realistic to fund a new football program, it is unlikely that the university or its donors could support three additional new programs.
Whether you believe that VCU should begin forming a football program or you believe the athletics program is robust enough as it is, it is unlikely that we will see a resolution to this debate in the very near future. While VCU President Michael Rao is considering adding a football team to the athletics organization, it is reported that he is spending a considerable amount of time weighing the options.