Because UMKC is classified as a Division I university by NCAA standards, many think its odd the school does not have a football program.
There may be several reasons why UMKC has foregone America’s most popular college sport. One of the chief concerns in establishing a football program is the large expense. According to Tim Gardner in USA Today, the average Division I football program spends roughly $200,000 a year on equipment and other miscellaneous items, not including scholarships for players.
Football equipment is expensive, and most Division I universities provide players with practically every equipment item necessary but the kitchen sink. This often includes, but is not limited to, multiple pairs of cleats, gloves and socks, several jerseys and t-shirts, pads and helmets. And then there’s “eye black,” the grease players put under their eyes to reduce glare from the sun and stadium lights.
According to Gardner, the average cost to outfit one player is a whopping $2,700 per season. And with a maximum cap of 105 players per Division I football roster, providing equipment could reach up to $283,000.
But that’s just a drop in the bucket. Football expenses in The Big 12 ranged from about $11 million to about $25 million for the period of July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010, according to businessofcollegesports.com.
While a powerhouse like The University of Texas brings in far more cash than it spends, it is extremely doubtful that a UMKC football program could come close to breaking even.
These expenses include extensive financial aid to players.
There are two NCAA Division I football subdivisions, the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Schools in the FBS, most notably those in The Big 12 Conference, are allowed to provide full-ride scholarships for up to 85 players.
The FCS does not limit the number of players eligible for aid, but its schools may provide the equivalent of 63 full scholarships.
In either subdivision, the all-inclusive yearly cost of a football program is easily more than $400,000.
If UMKC created a football program, recruiting players and coaches would be an additional expense. Though UMKC’s student body is diverse, it’s difficult to imagine a 300-pound, 6-foot-5 offensive lineman wandering through the quad.
Funding for a football program could also increase tuition costs, which is unappealing to even the most enthusiastic football fans.
UMKC’s reputation is not based on athletics, but rather its academics. UMKC is known for the Bloch School and the Conservatory, along with other reputable academic programs.
What it all boils down to is this: When it comes to Division I athletics, UMKC is a tiny fish in a massive pond. It often takes decades to build a reputable college football empire, and the necessary resources can be difficult to obtain.
If UMKC did have a football program, for at least several years, the team most likely wouldn’t fare much better than the Kansas City Chiefs have in the last decade. Though football is a wonderful, highly entertaining team sport, for the time being, UMKC is probably better off saving its money and dignity.