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Opinion: From the Sports Desk

Football is killing Western’s athletics

Lake Larsen | Sports Editor

“Football is on solid standing at Western… If we get (to add more games to the schedule) with the Lone Star (conference) then we’ll be playing football for the next 50 years at least,” stated Athletic Director Curtis Campbell. His voice gave me no doubt that he held this belief very near and dear, but the facts seemed to point another direction.

Thursday, Oct. 11, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Campbell about the financial status of Western’s athletics. During the interview it became abundantly clear that Western struggles to compete at a high level athletically due to the inability to fully fund any of the varsity athletics.

“We are the lowest funded school in our conference. We offer the least amount of scholarships in every sport. We are at the bottom of the list,” said Campbell about our ability to offer scholarships.

“In football…you can offer 36 full scholarships. We offer about 15. In baseball you can have nine, and we have three. In track and field you can have 12.7 and we have three. So were the lowest funded school in our conference.”

This inability to fully fund athletics comes at the cost of success.

“The more scholarship dollars you have, the more competitive you are — the teams that are winning in football, and in basketball and in baseball. The teams that are winning are the ones that have the most scholarships to award.”

In Issue 3 of The Western Howl in the article titled, “Opinion: From the Sports Desk” I expressed how football may be on its deathbed due to the monumental cost and microscopic size of the conference. After speaking with Campbell, it became apparent to me that football is not only dying, it’s killing off the sports around it.

“We don’t have the funding…We are the lowest funded school in our conference” Campbell repeated over and over.

The question that kept occuring to me, if Western was struggling so much to fund all the athletic programs, why not condense the amount being offered?

When asked about adding programs, Campbell said, “We’re not funding the varsity sports we currently have… When you fully fund the sports you already have, then you start adding sports. But we’re so far away from that.”

But wouldn’t lowering the amount of programs offered allow the rest of Western’s athletics to thrive?

In 2008, when Western Washington University ended their football program, Eileen Coughlin, vice president for Student Affairs and Academic Support Services said to Tim Booth, Associated Press Sports Writer in his story “WWU Ends Football Program; Ensures Excellence of All Other Sports“, “Ending the football program will allow intercollegiate athletics to meet budget reduction targets, and, most importantly, to protect the quality of the remaining intercollegiate sports,”

Maybe Western Oregon should take a page from Western Washington’s book and protect the sports around football. Because if football stays for 50 years, other sports might not.

 

Contact the author at howlsports@wou.edu