Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick Slabach held a listening session Thursday afternoon about the possibility of the university adding football and women’s lacrosse teams.
The session, held in the Polytechnic United Methodist Church, lasted just over one hour. Slabach talked about the possibility of adding the teams while answering questions and fielding comments from an audience that included faculty, staff and 10 students, including several members of current Wesleyan athletic teams.
Slabach started the session by explaining how the idea of adding football and lacrosse started a couple years ago.
“The football and lacrosse discussion actually began around two years ago,” Slabach said. ”Our Athletic Director Steve Trachier and I started preliminary research into the topic.”
Among other things, Slabach said that:
- If preparations move quickly, Wesleyan could field a football team as early as the fall of 2016. The first year would include practice and team scrimmages; no official National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic games would be played. The Wesleyan team would play against other teams the second year.
- Funding for the football team — including a new weight room — would come from the tuition of the new student athletes. Slabach predicted that 125 athletes would come to Wesleyan to play football; 75 would be there for the first season, which is called a “redshirt season” because the team would not be playing any real games.
- He anticipates that the cost of the football team’s first season will be $626,290. The team’s net revenue, after scholarships and operating expenses, would be $1.8 million.
- The football team would practice and play its games at Herman Clark Stadium, a multi-use stadium in Fort Worth.
- If football does make it to Wesleyan, the Grille Works will be converted into a weight room and the restaurant would be moved to the Baker Building.
- Wesleyan’s football team would play in the Central States League, a mixture of both the Sooner Athletic Conference and the Red River Conference.
- The women’s lacrosse team would have approximately 35 players and would start competition in its first year.
Michael Brown, a sophomore criminal justice major and member of the men’s soccer team, attended the meeting. He said that if something makes Wesleyan more money it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right decision.
“I don’t think anything should be done for just profit but for the university,” he said. “You have multiple sports that haven’t won a single championship and I think that money should be put toward that.”
John Bartlett, assistant dean of students, said that the university has done a great job in researching the possibility of adding the two sports.
“The forum was handled very well and obviously President Slabach and the committee have put a lot of work into researching this,” he said. “I feel like no stone was really left unturned.”
The next football/lacrosse listening session is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12 in PUMC.