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George Mason and big-time football? Probably not


George Mason does have a club football team, shown here in 2009, which has existed since 1993 and plays in the Seaboard Conference. (George Mason University Development and Alumni Affairs)

It’s a frequently asked question in Fairfax. In fact, when new GMU president Angel Cabrera made his first appearance after being hired, one of the questions from the press was about his position on football. The school now has an enrollment of 33,000, competes at the highest level in other sports, and is located in the second wealthiest county in America.

Probably not going to happen. In this well-reported article by James Ho in the Broadside student newspaper, athletic director Tom O’Connor lays out a number of obstacles, but primarily, well, money. “Cost is the biggest issue,” O’Connor told Ho. “It is very costly to be successful in a spectator sport like football.”

O’Connor provides some very interesting statistics. For one, playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), the costs of fielding a team alone would be $30 million. Then you’d need a 40,000-seat stadium. That’s another $170 million. Student fees to pay for all this would be raised to $1,252 for an FBS team, Ho reports. One could see some opposition among students and parents to that little financial assessment.

In order to comply with federal Title IX rules on gender equality, the school would either have to eliminate some mens’ sports or add women’s. They would add teams, Ho said, increasing the cost. And an NCAA report said that only 14 of 120 FBS schools made a profit on sports. Read the rest of Ho’s story here, and resign yourself to having to root for the same old JMU-Va.Tech-U.Va.-William & Mary squads again.

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