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Date Posted: Tue, December 13 2005, 19:32:28
Author: Duck
Subject: Four Years to Go

On January 20, 2006, it will be one year since the following announcement was made:

office of the president

January 20, 2005


University of Texas at Arlington President James D. Spaniolo has issued the following statement regarding sports expansion:

For the past few months, we have been considering a proposal to add three intercollegiate sports (football, women's golf, and women's soccer) to our current offerings. During this process, I have received valuable advice from many people. I thank the Athletics Alumni Chapter of the Alumni Association for their thoughtful suggestions and advocacy in support of efforts to bring greater pride and spirit to campus. I also thank our students for taking the initiative in supporting sports expansion.

This has been an open and thorough process, which began with a referendum last April in which students voted to increase their fees by $2 per credit-hour to fund sports expansion. The increase would generate about $1.25 million earmarked for sports expansion but could be collected only when enough external funds had been raised to cover start-up costs. We then contracted with Neinas Sports Services to conduct a cost and feasibility study, which concluded that such an expansion would cost $13.7 million-$17.5 million over five years and require major private fund-raising efforts to raise at least $5 million to finance football start-up costs. Armed with this information and my own personal research, I have consulted with Student Congress, the Athletics Alumni Chapter, and many others in careful study, listening, and learning. Now, we must act and move forward.

The idea of re-instituting football and adding women's golf and soccer is intriguing and attractive and requires careful planning and consideration in order to be successful. But adding new sports, particularly football, is also expensive and complex. To do so would be a major undertaking requiring extensive time and resources of many people inside and outside the university.

I have concluded that there is an even more compelling way than sports expansion to create a sense of community and pride in UTA, a way that will better serve a broader range of interests within the university. A Special Events Center on campus will enrich our student life experience sooner by providing a better venue for our current sports, including volleyball and men's and women's basketball games, as well as commencements, convocations, and cultural and community events. (In December 2004, our Student Congress unanimously supported a resolution calling for the construction of a Special Events Center on campus.) We are engaged in preliminary planning for a Special Events Center and expect to announce more specific plans, including a rendering of the building, within the next few weeks.

We are also studying the possibility of expanding our current Activities Building to better accommodate growing student demand for campus recreation facilities. With an increasing enrollment and strong interest in fitness and recreational sports, our Activities Building has become overcrowded, and expansion is sorely needed. We are developing the building expansion plan in consultation with student leaders.

This spring, I will work closely with Student Congress in seeking support for these exciting projects. The truth is that we cannot pursue these building projects simultaneously with proposed sports expansion. It's a matter of timing and priority. UTA will have sports expansion in a way that will not diminish the quality or level of support for our outstanding, existing fourteen-sport NCAA Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Program.

My hope is that we can add women's golf and women's soccer in the next two or three years. We will begin exploring those possibilities in the next few months. I am asking Athletic Director Pete Carlon to prepare a report by the end of the semester that will include several options for accomplishing this goal. With respect to football, by far the most expensive and complex of any intercollegiate sport, I will defer any decision for now; however, I am committed to taking a fresh and comprehensive look at football for UTA within five years. This will allow us to have completed the Special Events Center and Activities Building expansion and will coincide with the arrival of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, which will influence the football question in ways we cannot yet know.

James D. Spaniolo



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