Let Them Play Foundation, Inc.
Since the Santa Clara football program was dropped in 1993, University representatives have made written statements regarding why the return of football is not possible in the foreseeable future.
These reasons can be summarized into three main categories: Cost, Lack of Available Scheduling Options, Title IX. Please consider the following issues regarding these reasons:
Cost: Santa Clara University is one of the wealthiest universities in the nation and has the ability to pay for increased athletic opportunities for both men and women. In The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac (August 31, 1998), Santa Clara's endowment was ranked 104th of all universities and colleges. After accounting for those schools, with larger endowments, that cannot play football because of their student body make-up (traditional women's colleges, graduate schools, specialized educational alternatives), Santa Clara moves to 93 on the list.
Of the top 93 schools, Santa Clara is one of only 11 schools that do not play football. Furthermore, there are approximately 600 four-year schools with smaller endowments than Santa Clara playing football.
The University's own 1997 study of athletic fund raising activities by West Coast Conference (WCC) members states "Despite the additional funds we (Santa Clara Univ.) raise for athletics compared to the other (WCC) schools, Santa Clara's total athletic budget is below the league average when measured as a percentage of total E&G (educational and general) expense. The data seem to indicate that Santa Clara may be using the additional gifts received for athletics more to reduce the university's burden on its overall budget, rather than to enhance the athletic program." This statement was made despite Santa Clara having the strongest athletic fundraising organization in the WCC and the financial strength to fund these programs.
Claims that the return of football will hurt existing athletic programs are not based on Santa Clara's history. While football was played:
- The women's soccer program started an eleven-year run of consecutive National Top 10 rankings, went to the NCAA tournament every year from 1989 to 1992, made it to the national semi-finals in '89, '90 and '92, and took an unbeaten record and a No. 1 ranking to the NCAA Final Four.
- The women's basketball team was turned around with the hiring of Caren Horstmeyer in 1988. Records from the 1990-91 to 1992-93 seasons were, 28-3, 21-10, and 19-9. The teams won two league titles, an NWIT post-season championship, and won the first WCC post-season tournament.
- The University hired a new women's volleyball coach in 1990, who is credited with turning around the program. The 1991 and 1992 teams finished 26-11 and 21-11, respectively. During these years the team finished in first place in the WCC once, achieved a successful run in a post-season tournament and went to the NCAA tournament. During this time, SCU recruited its first All-American volleyball player, Michelle Wagner, who is ironically the sister of former Santa Clara football player, Phil Wagner.
- The men's soccer team was a national contender. The team won a national championship and played in another national championship game while Santa Clara played football.
- The men's basketball and baseball teams have the maximum scholarship support allowed by the NCAA and have been known for their success in league and in NCAA playoff competition long before football was dropped.
Furthermore, cutting football did not enhance other athletic programs nearly as much as may be assumed. The University brought the level of athletic scholarship support for the women's soccer program to the NCAA maximum only this year - over six years after football's demise, and the women's basketball program still has 13 scholarships, the NCAA maximum is 15.
A recent University statement concluded expenses resulting from the decision to play football would result in a $5 million annual cost and would require a $100 million endowment to fund such expenses. However, the same statement concludes that if the University received such a gift, that "it is still unlikely that we would consider creating a new football program."
Upon dropping the football program, Fr. Locatelli wrote in his letter to the University Community that, " … the total direct cost of the football program (approximately $680,000 in 1992) has become prohibitive; gate receipts and scholarship gifts reduced this cost by approximately $210,000."
Today, five years later, the University asserts that the cost to have a football program has increased tremendously. What are the assumptions involved with the University's conclusions? How do other schools play football and succeed with substantially smaller budgets? What are the athletic endowments at other schools? If the University's numbers and assumptions are to be believed, perhaps the University would have been better off to have studied ways to improve the football program in 1993.
The University's assertion that the cost of football was prohibitive did not take into account a key fact. There were well over 100 players on the team and only 16 scholarships available to share among all the players. This means that over 85 academically qualified players were paying their own way to at the University. Their tuition and fees more than offset the $470,000 net cost of the program and actually resulted in the football program making money for the school. The University did not engage in any study of the football program in 1993 and made a hasty decision without consulting those Santa Clara family members who could have helped the program survive and thrive.
Lack of Available Scheduling Alternatives: The NCAA offers scheduling flexibility to Division I-AA schools that do not have enough Division I-AA opponents within close geographic proximity for football scheduling. Such schools can play whomever they wish provided that they do not have more than 12.6 scholarships (the approximate scholarship level that we were scheduled to have for the 1993 football season when the program was dropped). This rule was authored by Rick Mazzutto, former athletic director at St. Mary's, and passed at the NCAA convention in 1992 when Division I requirements were rewritten. St. Mary's has never had to invoke this rule to have a competitive football schedule.
Title IX: There are over 685 four-year institutions playing football. During the 1990s, the time of the most stringent enforcement of Title IX requirements, over 35 college football programs have been ADDED, and six additional schools have announced that they will be playing football by 2001. During this same period, nineteen football programs were dropped, resulting in new football programs outnumbering dropped football programs by approximately 2:1. These new programs include Division I, II and III teams. All of these schools are subject to Title IX provisions. In fact, compared to any modern ten-year period, the 1990s may be remembered as a "golden age" in the creation of college football programs.
A Santa Clara education challenges students to ask questions, propose solutions and evaluate results. If other schools have been able to enhance their athletic programs through the addition of football, why can't Santa Clara find a way to do the same?
The University Administration uses the issues of Cost, Scheduling, and Title IX to quickly diffuse any examination of the football question from busy alumni, students and friends who do not have the time or resources to examine the issues closely. Furthermore, a note of caution must be issued. It has been the experience of football supporters that once the University's issues are addressed, new reasons to dismiss football are advanced. However, these new reasons are all variations on the themes of Cost, Scheduling and Title IX.
There are many reasons for the return of football to Santa Clara. Among them are increased academic opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds, better alumni and student relations, the return of a great tradition, and the increased opportunity for the university to attract qualified students who will contribute to the university's life as students and alumni. Many universities (including Division I Jesuit institutions Holy Cross, Georgetown, Fordham, St. Peter's, and Boston College) consider football to be an integral part of a well-rounded and successful athletic program.
One point must be made very clear - only the University's willingness to play football stands in the way of the successful return of football to Santa Clara.
The Let Them Play Foundation welcomes your comments and is willing to engage in a further discussion with you regarding these issues. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Let Them Play Foundation
© 2003, Let Them Play Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization incorporated in the state of California. Not affiliated with Santa Clara University. Use of the words 'Santa Clara', 'Broncos', or other descriptions and accounts of Santa Clara Football are used solely within a fair use of same and is provided solely as a means of historical information and context to the public domain. All rights reserved.