With the addition of new majors and sports on Oklahoma Christian University’s horizon after a year as an official member of the NCAA Division II, one sport remains off the radar.
Since Oklahoma Christian’s founding in 1950, the university has avoided the addition of a football program to its list of sports on campus.
“The conferences in which we have previously played in the past were non-football playing conferences, and a lot of our rivals didn’t play football,” Athletic Director Curtis Janz said. “That has changed a bit today, but that is a little of the history.”
According to Janz, price is the biggest reason Oklahoma Christian has never seriously considered a football program.
“The startup cost is huge,” Janz said. “The facility, which we don’t have, would have to consist of a football field and stadium, and to build a stadium would be around $25 million. Then, you start to think, do you want to start a marching band and that kind of thing?”
With the recent tuition increase, even students on the Oklahoma Christian campus in favor of a football team, like senior Will Cooke, are wary of its expensive price tag.
“I would personally love to see OC have a football team, but with rising tuition prices and talk about OC going into debt, it would look bad for a football program to be started now,” Cooke said. “It would bring in more prospective students, many who would not previously attend OC because they want a football team on campus, but I just think now’s not the time.”
According to the National Football Foundation, the number of schools playing NCAA football has increased from 448 to 657 schools between 1978 and 2013, with an average of 4.9 schools adding a football program each year. In the past three seasons, 25 NCAA and NAIA universities have added football programs.
“Football would give students something to do on the weekends, because when everyone goes home for the weekend, we aren’t able to interact nearly as much and meet new people,” freshman Slater Springman said. “I think a lack of football is hurting OC’s growth because students are looking for a place that has a strong sense of community and football would provide that better atmosphere on campus.”
Despite the idea that football helps a campus expand, Janz said Oklahoma Christian has plenty of other ways to grow its numbers.
“There are other sports we can add that would make more sense or aren’t as expensive,” Janz said. “I think we are looking to add some additional majors in the next year that will help the university grow.”
Janz said that the possibility of switching conferences is another concern he has with adding a football program.
“Would we have to change conferences?” Janz said. “If we do, would there be any conference willing to let us in? So, those are a few things we’d have to think about. One of my biggest concerns would also be the addition of 100 football players on campus, because what does that do to us compliance wise? That’s 100 more eligibilities and 100 more kids that we have to monitor for extra benefits and that sort of thing.”
Janz said that while football would bring a new tradition to Oklahoma Christian, it is not practical at the moment.
“I do think there are some positives,” Janz said. “It gives another activity on campus and it does bring more kids, but with it being our first year to compete in Division II, we just don’t have the infrastructure in place to add that number of athletes.”