UMass Faculty Senate motion to leave FBS falls a vote short

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
There were a lot of empty seats at UMass 'home' games in 2012. (US Presswire)

Back in December the Faculty Senate at Massachusetts voiced its concern over the increase of money the school was spending on its football program following a move from the FCS level to the FBS level. On Thursday, the Faculty Senate voted on a motion to have UMass football leave the FBS level and that motion failed by one vote.

The motion was beaten by a 19-18 vote with one abstention. Absent from the vote was professor Max Page. He had been the most vocal critic of the school's move to the FBS but was out of the country on Thursday and could not vote.

“Whatever else might be said of the 2011 decision to move to the next level, it was never presented as a one-year experiment," said chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy at Thursday's meeting. "It simply couldn't be. Like many decisions I inherited, it is my job to ensure the program's success in a responsible manner. That's what I intend to do. I have been consistent in this position. As with any major campus initiative we will carefully monitor the progress and the financial commitments associated with the process to ensure that the best interests of the university as a whole are always at the forefront.”

Of course, it's important to point out that even if the motion passed, that doesn't mean the football program would have to move back to the FCS level. It's only a suggestion from the faculty.

Still, whether the faculty can affect change or not, there are still some concerns with UMass' football program.

During its first year on the FBS level, Massachusetts saw its football budget increase $1.7 million, up to $7.1 million from $5.4 million in 2011. However, with the football team playing 100 miles away from campus at Gillette Stadium while McGuirk Stadium is renovated, home attendance at Massachusetts games dropped from an average of 13,008 in 2011 to 10,902 in 2012.

And it's never a good thing to see costs increase while attendance decreases, though it's possible attendance will increase once McGuirk Stadium is ready in 2014. In fact, if attendance doesn't increase, UMass may not have a choice as to whether it remains in the FBS or not.

The NCAA mandates that FBS schools have an average home attendance of 15,000 at least once during a sliding two-year window. Though there are plenty of ways for a school to get around this with giveaways.

For more college football news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCFB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, college football newsletter, and get the Eye On College Football Podcast from iTunes. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter here: @TomFornelli.

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