Here's how difficult and costly it is to start an FBS college football program
Wichita State is once again looking into bringing back football, which was last played at the school way back in 1986
If nothing else, we now know what it costs to start a college football program from scratch.
Price tag: $75 million. That's just to snap a football in the first season of play at the FBS level for Wichita State, according to a study commissioned by the school.
The school is looking into adding football in order to join a higher-profile conference given the recent success of basketball under Gregg Marshall. CBS Sports previously reported that, through intermediaries, Wichita State had approached the Mountain West about membership.
That attempt was basically shot down.
The 69-page study assembled by College Sports Solutions of Atlanta provides an inside look at starting football from the ground up.
The study concludes it would cost between $21 million and 28 million to renovate Cessna Stadium, a 47-year-old facility that previously was home to the football team, which has not suited up since 1986. That doesn't include another $21 million needed to add practice facilities.
If Wichita State decided today to add football at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, it would play its first game at that level in 2020 the study concluded.
By that time, the school would have spent an additional $25.7 million in administrative, athletic and salary costs.
The football study titled "Football Benchmarking Analysis" was released this week. It made no recommendations.
Wichita State has two options of playing at the Football Championship Subdivision, which is the step below the FBS. The difference is being branded as a major college football school, which can have positive impacts on giving and enrollment.
The school has commissioned seven previous studies about bringing back football after jettisoning it in 1986. None ultimately led to the reinstatement of the sport.
If Wichita State adds football at the highest level, it would be riding a wave that will see membership in the NCAA's FBS grow to 130 by 2017. Eleven schools have moved up to FBS since 2008.
The school's profile most resembles that of a lower-level FCS school. It's enrollment of slightly less than 9,000 would be among the lowest in FBS.
Wichita State currently plays basketball and its other sports in the Missouri Valley. However, president John Bardo has made it known because of the success of the basketball program, the school could benefit by that FBS branding.
The Missouri Valley is aware of Wichita State's attempts to look around. The MVC also sponsors football. In fact, it is one of the best FCS leagues in the country.
While joining FCS would mean lower costs, it might not get the school to that higher profile that Bardo is seeking.
Interesting to know: According to the study, the average FBS staff is paid an average of $4.55 million per year, slightly under $2 million for the head coach. (Based on fiscal year 2014 numbers.)
The study concluded that if Wichita State chooses to play in FBS, it must join a conference. As the study noted, there has been "significant change in the national landscape" since the school's last feasibility study in 2007.
Starting an FBS program will require an invitation from an existing conference. That most likely would come from a Group of Five league (MAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA, American -- assuming the Mountain West is out).
Wichita State should not play as an independent in football (such as BYU) because of "operational difficulties," most of them having to do with scheduling, per the study.
To address Title IX issues, Wichita State most likely would have to add multiple women's sports. The quickest road to gender equality would be adding rowing, which has an average roster size of 66.5, according to the study.
Two recent FBS start-ups were presented as comparables. In the case of Georgia State and Charlotte, by far the biggest revenue producer was student fees.
It is assumed Wichita State would probably use the same model, bumping up fees significantly to support the football program.
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