November 10, 2010
Athletic tradition is a large part of Oklahoma Baptist University’s rich heritage and it may soon be expanded through the adding of football, swimming, and women’s lacrosse teams.
This fall the administration at Oklahoma Baptist University began to examine the possibility and feasibility of adding these new athletic teams to the OBU athletic roster.
The last time adding a new athletic team was considered was in the 2006-2007 school year when the administration at OBU examined the possibility of adding football to OBU athletics, but the idea was abandoned due to lack of funds.
Chairman of the Athletics Committee Bobby Kelly said, “At the time, the university was going to have to foot the bill for the football program and lacking any donation it presented a higher risk without promise of a reward.”
Recently OBU received a donation in excess of one million dollars from an OBU alumnus, “The situation is now different and is worth examining again…the donation would cover a substantial, if not the whole, amount of the startup costs based on the updated numbers from 2006,” Kelly said.
The subject of adding new athletic teams prompted the OBU administration to hold a student forum Monday morning in Potter Auditorium allowing students to ask questions of a panel made up of OBU staff and administration members.
The panel comprised of President David Whitlock, Provost Stan Norman, Athletics Committee Chairman Bobby Kelly, Executive Vice President for Business and Administrative Services Randy Smith and Director of Athletics Dr. Norris Russell.
Many students attended the forum, which also provided chapel credit to attendees. Students proposed several questions regarding the adding of new teams to panel during the hour-long forum.
Sophomore Neal Ellis asked President Whitlock, “What’s the purpose in adding a football team?” to which Whitlock responded, “When it comes to adding new sports or considering adding anything at a liberal arts university the question is, does this help us advance our mission? A few of the things that football as well as swimming and lacrosse could bring are more diversity to the campus more of a balance between genders.”
While much of the forum focused upon the logistics of the location of the field and the effect it would have upon other departments at OBU, the main topic of the students’ questions was money.
“Startup costs for football would be approximately one to one point five million dollars which includes equipment and bleacher upgrades,” said Russell.
According to Dr. Russell’s presentation, which was also shown to the OBU board of trustees, the estimated revenue gained from football would be approximately $418,023 per year.
In regards to the financial aspect of adding new athletic teams Whitlock said, “…it is a requirement for adding any new sports that they be revenue positive or at least self supportive and not a drain on other sports or the universities budget.”
While the forum eased the minds of many students, it left many with unanswered questions, “I feel like the answers were kind of vague”, said Junior Cody Yount, “… however this is more inclusion of the students than we have ever had. It shows that the administration is listening to the student body.”
Though some felt unsatisfied Provost Stan Norman said “I hope that the forum was productive and that the students really got a sense that we are interested in their input and that their perspective really matters. Student input does matter it does make a difference.”
While many opinions surrounding the addition of football and other athletic teams at OBU abound, the final decision on the matter will be unknown for an indefinite amount of time.