Column: A winning football team would benefit university

Jonas Fortune

In Monday’s edition of the Daily Kent Stater, I came across an interesting quote from the president of this university.

“I’m much more concerned about academics …” President Lester Lefton informed a panel of Stater editors when asked about the football team. “If we win some football games, it’ll be a lot of fun, but we do a good job in our intercollegiate programs.”

Now this is a fine answer, and I do not disagree with his response. Sure, academics are of utmost importance at any college, but his response got me thinking a little bit.

College football is about more than just winning a few games for fun.

College football is a rewarding business venture for many colleges across the nation. It is in Kent State’s best interest to have a winning football program.

According to information acquired from the 2004-2005 Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, many schools saw revenues reach into the million-dollar range.

For example, Ohio State’s EADA showed that football alone brought in nearly $52 million in revenue. That is 57.8 percent of the entire sports revenue created at Ohio State. Compared to Kent State’s meager football revenue of $793,065, that is impressive.

Now I realize Kent State is nowhere near the pedestal that the Buckeyes sit atop. In fact, Kent’s entire university revenue equals about 15 percent of Ohio State’s. Yet Kent State’s football revenue is bleak, even compared to other Mid-American Conference schools.

Miami’s EADA shows football revenue close to $4.5 million. Kent didn’t even break the $1 million mark. Yikes.

Kent needs a strong football program that students, faculty and alumni can rally behind. This would deliver ticket and merchandise sales, possible endorsement deals and let’s not forget that teams are given stipends for making bowl games.

The chances of Kent ever making a major bowl game are slim. But it is not unreasonable for the Flashes to compete in the MAC and possibly earn a berth in the GMAC or Motor City bowl games. We would still be talking about thousands, possibly millions, in increased revenue then.

Kent State is already making an effort. For every home football game, tailgating has been brought back in an attempt to create excitement about the team. But creating a buzz and increasing a team’s revenue comes down to winning football games and creating excitement on the field, something the Flashes have lacked for a while.

So, yes, I do agree with Lefton, we should be much more concerned with academics. But football should not be forgotten. Although it is truly about fun, winning a few more games will benefit the whole university.

Contact sports columnist Jonas Fortune at [email protected].