There could be two new sports on the way to Texas Wesleyan’s campus soon- football and lacrosse.
Adding football and lacrosse would both enhance student life and increase university revenue by the first year of intercollegiate play, according to a memorandum sent out to faculty, staff and students by Dean of Students Dennis Hall in December 2015.
President Frederick Slabach will be announcing whether Wesleyan will be adding football and lacrosse sometime this spring, said John Veilleux, vice president for Marketing & Communications.
The decision of whether to add football and lacrosse was debated several times last semester, including at two “listening sessions” attended by faculty, staff and students.
Here are some key points from the memorandum sent to faculty, staff and students:
- The Grille Works will be converted into a new weight room, accessible to all athletes.
- Adding both sports could bring in as many as 200 students.
- The football team would take a two year phase-in approach, making an official season in 2018.
- The football team would most likely play at Herman Clark Stadium, a multi-use stadium in Fort Worth, Slabach said during the first listening session.
- Wesleyan would play in the Central States League, a mixture of both the Sooner Athletic Conference and the Red River Conference, Slabach said during the same session.
- Wesleyan would compete against Arizona Christian University, Bacone College, Langston University, Lyon College, Southwestern Assemblies of God, Texas College and Wayland Baptist University.
“The first year will be seen as a ‘leadership class,” Slabach said in November. “This class will see a recruitment of between 50-75 students. It will be a redshirt season meaning no games will be played. Just practice and scrimmaging within the team.” In its second year, the football team will play a full season in the NAIA, Slabach said. In terms of recruitment, other colleges that have added football such as Wayland Baptist University, Bacone College and Southwestern Assemblies of God have seen classes big as 200 students. As much as $626,000 will spent on the football team its first year, including staff, equipment, uniforms, transportation and renting Clark Stadium, Slabach said. But these costs will be paid for by the additional tuition revenue of the 75 new students. “At the NAIA level the revenue comes from the students who want to attend,” he said. “So as more students come to play so does the tuition revenue.” Year one of football at Wesleyan won’t cost anyone anything extra, Slabach said. “The tuition revenue in the first year for the 75 students minus all expenses, including the new weight room, will net out at zero,” he said. “It would not cost the university any money.” 2018, the first year of intercollegiate competition for the football team, is when the program will start to have a positive financial impact for the university, according to the memorandum. Wesleyan is projected to make $1.5 million from football in the first year of full competition, according to the memorandum. “You can begin to see that when Wesleyan is realizing positive returns that it’s actually football and lacrosse that’s providing other opportunities for investment with the university,” he said. “That’s what’s happening in year two.” The material sent out to faculty, staff and students by Hall in early December contained much less information about women’s lacrosse than football. However, a document titled “Why Consider Adding Women’s Lacrosse?” notes that:
- Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing women’s sports in America.
- Wesleyan already has the existing facilities to support the sport.
- There are plenty of available prospective student-athletes in Allen, Coppell, Plano, Westlake, Keller and other nearby communities.
- There is little competition for recruiting lacrosse players in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
- There is available competition at several Texas schools, including Rice University, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and others.
- Women’s lacrosse is a “low budget sport,” and lacrosse players are “capable students.”
- Additional women’s lacrosse players will bring in more revenue for Wesleyan.
Kiersten Mebane, sophomore psyche major and player on Wesleyan’s volleyball team, believes that maybe attention should be focused elsewhere. “I don’t think that Wesleyan should bring these two sports here,” she said. “I think there is enough already on campus that isn’t handled right and that needs to change.” Pat Listach, a junior history major and basketball player for Wesleyan, is all for the two sports. “I really want to see both the football and lacrosse teams here on campus because I feel like there will be more to do on campus.”