Feasibility Study Sets Roadmap for Launch of Soccer at University of New Orleans – Crescent City Sports

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Is the University of New Orleans Ready for Some Soccer?

The murmur from the Lakefront was the strongest in a while as New Orleans athletic director Tim Duncan told Extra Points columnist Matt Brown that a feasibility study had been conducted.

The feasibility study, commissioned and paid for by the UNO Foundation, was conducted by Collegiate Consulting last September. I have received a copy of a draft of the study which can be viewed here via a FOIA request.

For the die-hard realigners among us, this consulting firm is no stranger to helping institutions and conferences manage change at the lower-to-intermediate level of NCAA Division I athletics.

This includes providing a conference membership study that helped bring about the departure of the “Texas 4” (Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin) from the Southland Conference to the Western Athletic Conference.

For the football crowd, Collegiate Consulting recently completed Chicago State’s research to add the sport as they review potential conference houses.

Soccer

What sports are we talking about and how much will it cost?

One of the keys to this study is examining the finances behind the university’s direction over a five-year period.

Although the schedule is subject to slight adjustments, with dollars remaining relatively similar, the hypothetical schedule presented in the study calls for the Privateers to contest the full Southland Conference football and women’s football schedules in 2024.

The football team would also participate in a “practice year” in the 2023-24 academic calendar year in this scenario.

Over a five-year period, Collegiate Consulting predicts a $4.3 million increase in the UN’s sports budget, with more than $1.4 million of that cost coming from the 77 maximum grants between the new sports.

The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), to which Southland belongs, awards institutions the equivalent of 63 scholarships, while women’s football at the Division I level accounts for 14 scholarships.

In both sports, scholarships can be split at the discretion of a coaching staff, much like what fans are used to with baseball scholarships. Only at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level do schools award full scholarships to their football students.

The other major costs associated with this are increases in sports operations, administrative operations, administrative salaries and coach salaries. Football equipment, insurance and athletic training have seen the largest increases among football-related categories.

In all, Collegiate Consulting recommends six full-time positions and one part-time position in the UN Sports Department – ​​academic coordinator, marketing and ticketing manager, assistant sports information director, assistant director of facilities, one assistant athletic trainer, and one full-time and part-time assistant strength and conditioning coach .

The football coaching team has grown over time to include a head coach, two coordinators, eight other full-time assistants, a graduate assistant and an equipment manager.

The women’s football program would consist of a head coach and an assistant coach.

Both programs would not hire all trainers at once as they build up to launch their programs. Total salaries for the new signings would top out at over $1 million by the end of the five-year pro forma period, with the head football coach leading the way with a projected salary of $223,000.

university center

Where does the income come from?

Multiple sources at the university have said plans are afoot to gain student body support for adding the two sports, as well as a marching band, through a campus-wide vote.

Although there is no reference to a marching band in the study, Collegiate Consulting points out that tuition could account for $700,000 of the revenue needed to cover the $4.3 million increase in the sports budget.

Additional funds by the end of the pro forma program indicate that in addition to funds from direct institutional support ($1.13 million), gate receipts ($250,000), match guarantees ($1.1 million), program revenues from corporate sponsorships and similar ($800,000) and NCAA/Conference Revenue ($380,000).

Based on recent Play Guarantee payouts to FCS opponents, the Privateers would need to either play two “Power 5” opponents annually as part of their schedule or find three FBS games to reach the $1.1 million in Play Guarantees.

FCS schools are allowed 11 regular season competitions except in years when there is an extra week between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. These years allow programs to play 12 games.

Troy Green

What else does the study show?

The remainder of the study is consistent with other feasibility studies of this type.

In college schools that have added football in the last 20 years, Division I programs that started the sport see an average 2% increase in enrollment “year after,” with increases averaging “since football began “ make up 37%. Gain over their pre-football enrollment.

Budget and sports sponsorship comparisons were made with both Southland and Sun Belt.

This study, conducted using the University of the Incarnate Word, which will join the Western Athletic Conference, shows that the average Southland institution generates $3.72 million across all revenue streams.

Most notably, the average Southland institution has football operating expenses totaling $895,573. McNeese State has the largest operating expenses at $1.13 million. Southeastern Louisiana University has the second largest spend at $1.06. Nicholls State University has the lowest operating costs at just under $700,000. All three Louisiana schools are members of the University of Louisiana system, which similarly serves as the headquarters of the United Nations.

So what was missing from the study?

For one thing, this was a draft and the summary was missing.

Otherwise, the most significant absence was a deep dive into where the Privateers will play those two sports.

Tad Gormley at City Park, which once hosted the Privateers club football team, has often been mentioned as a potential site for Division I football. Tulane last played a game at the stadium in 2008.

Ample space on the east edge of the main campus adjacent to the Human Performance Center (HPC) as well as on the nearby Lakefront campus could provide land for both programs.

The Lakefront campus, located down the street from the university’s main campus, currently houses the Lakefront Arena, the University Tennis Center, and the baseball team’s Maestri Field.

Aside from the facility question, others might also be curious to explore where the program would compare to the Pioneer League without a stipend. The Pioneer, a coast-to-coast FCS football league, was explored in UNO’s previous survey of football over 20 years ago.

The difference now is that while Pioneer has been able to automatically bid for the FCS playoffs in recent years, the Privateers are in a conference that requires their members to compete in the league if they have a sport that is compatible with consistent with the sports sponsorship of the conference. This charter was enacted by Southland following membership changes in the mid-2000s when ULM contested all non-football sports at the conference.

Tim Duncan, UNO AD Introduction

And what comes next?

Facilities information aside, UN leadership is largely armed with the costs it will take to set up an NCAA Division I soccer and women’s soccer program on top of their current offerings.

Aside from searching the die-hard privateers who wanted to know what it would take to bring football to university status, the biggest question over the years has been how football could be achieved while there was a lack of cohesion between the university administration and the sports department.

That issue is resolved as the current bonds between the two seem stronger than ever.

A former student athlete at Memphis, Duncan has taken every opportunity to get involved on campus since arriving in 2019 as athletic director, while also working to build relationships with the community.

Duncan’s first 100 days on campus were marked by an aggressive campaign to put down roots in New Orleans by meeting with many local leaders, which is crucial for anyone who doesn’t have deep ties to the Crescent City.

UN President John Nicklow is a former Bucknell football player and spent time as an administrator at Southern Illinois, a school that plays FCS football. He has shown he understands the role that athletics plays on a college campus and has no problem sharing that position. Following the recent successful fundraising for the school’s academic end, Nicklow is able to cement his legacy by adding football.

With that cohesion and drive, the University of New Orleans may have finally found the partnership it needs to reach the end zone by not only mustering the resources that would put these two teams on the field, but also the culture of the University completely changed for all eternity.


NOTE: Jason Plotkin served as Sports Information Director at the University of New Orleans from 2007-2013.

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