Will Football Return to Wichita State?

By: KAKE Sports
By: KAKE Sports

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In 1998 the WSU Athletics Enhancement Program Committee voted 14 to 3 in favor of bringing football back to Wichita State. Obviously that didn't work. Now, 8 years later a louder voice enters the fray.

Rewind to 20 years ago when there was football at Wichita State: sights and sounds that want to be heard again. Sounds that Rev. Reuben Eckels, former Shocker wide receiver can sometimes still hear if he listens hard enough. Sounds that some want to bring back

Mayor Carlos Mayans says, "I think it's time to bring football back to Wichita State."

For the mayor, it goes deeper than making alums proud. He says a rebirth of Shocker Football fits hand-in-hand with his desire to build the community and retain young adults: a demographic that has a recent history of leaving the area. Such as Wichita Northwest running back Jeran Trotter: the city league's all-time leading rusher for a single season who's headed to Missouri State this fall.

Since the cord was pulled on Shocker Football in 1987, 36 other colleges and universities have likewise gone away from the gridiron. None of them have brought the sport back.

Athletic Director Jim Schause believes Wichita State can continue "without" the services of a football program. He says any decision must be made from a business standpoint.

Shocker Football would return at the Division 1AA level. Programs competing in 1AA are allotted 63 scholarships. Under the gender equity legislation of Title IX Wichita State would be forced to also add three women's collegiate programs.

And just how successful is 1AA? A football at the gate, perennial powers from that division, Georgia Southern and Youngstown State have 10 national championships between them. Still, both programs lost over a $1,000,000 last season.

With college athletics operating as more of a business than even just 20 years ago we go straight to the bottom line.

In the most recent reporting year ending in June of '05, Wichita State's athletics revenue exceeded expenditures by almost $400,000: a positive gap that Schaus says would disappear is football were to return.

Which brings us back to the city and the county. Mill levee monies were provided to Wichita State in order to relieve the school of it's debt. A debt that has long since been absolved.

The mayor maintains that county commissioner Ben Sciortino is interested in looking at the Mill Levee situation as a starting point for Shocker Football. It's a discussion that he wants to move forward rather quickly.

Mayor Mayans says, "Within the next 3 to 5 years, I think it's very possible."

A sound that Reverend Reuben Eckels would love to hear.

Eckels says, "I think it will....I have to hope."

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