By James Howey
With all the resources and success the college’s athletics have had lately, one question always seems to come up. Why doesn’t the college have a football team?
Football is arguably the most popular and loved sport in America right now. The college is surrounded by a number of high schools that excel at the sport. Conventional wisdom would have most people believe it’s a perfect match.
“The good thing about football is it starts the year off and it sets a tone,” the college’s athletic director Carl Heinrich said. “I was the offensive coordinator at Highland Community College for six years and absolutely love the sport.”
Despite the tremendous love of football and the success the college could have with a football program, there are many reasons why the college does not have a football team. Most notably, the tremendous cost a football program holds.
“It would probably double our expenses in our athletic department, you’re talking probably $1,200 to $1,500 a student athlete,” Heinrich said. “The startup cost for a football program would probably be two to three million to get it going.”
A football team requires a much larger coaching staff than most sports. Sports like baseball, basketball, and volleyball usually require only a head coach with one or two assistant coaches.
“Football at the community college level usually takes at least four coaches,” Heinrich said. “You would probably need a full-time offensive coordinator, a full-time defensive coordinator, and then your full-time head coach, and then you could probably fill in with the other position coaches with part-time people.”
The success that the college has had in so many programs could greatly be affected by the addition of a football program.
“If we had a football program it would actually hurt the athletic program, because we would then have to cut other men’s sports to be title nine compatible,” sports information director Tyler Cundith said. “As far as I’m concerned it’s a good thing we don’t have it, because now we have it even with 18 sports between male and female.”
Having dorms for a football program is essential. This is something the college does not have and probably will not need any time soon.
“Until we have dorms we won’t have a football team,” said the college’s athletics facility and clinic coordinator Jim Dice. “This school has driven for 40 some years without dorms and I think that’s the big key is dorms.”
One issue for Cundith is how much fan support a football team could get at the college.
“Being in a commuter school like this, even though we are very large we don’t have students that stay on campus,” Cundith said. “The programs that do have it like Coffeyville, Butler, Highland, and Dodge City, it is part of the community. Shoot, KU is just down the road and they have a hard time filling their stadium.”
The costs of starting a new sport might not necessarily pay off for the school, according to Dice.
“You would have to win to benefit, and if you don’t win, you don’t benefit,” Dice said. “A lot of these schools survive because of what football players bring to the city and community.”
Thus, for the people and students that dream of the college having a football program, don’t hold your breath.
“You never say never, but the interest would have to start at the Board of Trustees and the community interest would have to be strong enough to support it,” Heinrich said. “You would probably have to raise the mill levy for something like that.”
By James Howey, special to the Ledger