Wednesday Playcard

UTSA Athletic's Fee Increase Fails

Despite an effort by UTSA to improve the school’s athletics program, a vast majority of students voted against a fee increase earmarked for vital infrastructure development. 

The University introduced a proposal to increase fees from $20 per credit hour to $21 per credit hour in 2018-19 and $22 per credit hour in 2019-20. The proposal piggybacked on a another referendum to increase transportation fees as well to help tackle UTSA's seemingly endless parking problems. 

76.7 percent of voting students polled against the athletic fees increase, though turnout for the vote itself just 6,000, meaning over 3/4 of the student population couldn't be bothered to vote.  UTSA continues to try and elevate its athletic's program with on-campus facilities including a new football facility and other improvements. UTSA's basketball facility, the Convocation Center, is badly in need of a facelift or tear down.

The defeat at the polls isn't a great look for UTSA, a school fighting to define its identity. A percentage of freshman arrive as part of the CAP program or Coordinated Admissions Program, a program that allows students to attend UTSA as a freshman, meet specific academic requirements and gain admittance to the University of Texas for their sophomore year. 

While the University is trying to phase out the CAP program, the UTSA continues to fight to create a real identity. The school's four-year graduation rate is just 27%, a number that new President Taylor Eighmy is bent on raising substantially. With over 30,000 undergrads the University is among the fastest growing in the state, but apathy for the athletic programs persists.  Getting buy-in from the current study body is critical to growing not just the athletic programs but also the school's stature in the years to come. 

There seems to exist some hostility on UTSA's campus toward student-athletes from what we hope is a minority of students and faculty. The reality is that the football program has advanced the University's profile by leaps and bounds in its short, on-field existence. A successful football program legitimizes a school faster than any college day booth or billboard. Application increases are tied to athletic success in every study that examined the question. Progress on the field also increases donations across the board, beyond athletics. Too bad a vocal minority hijacked the process that could have helped guarantee growth for UTSA as a whole. 

North Texas Athletic's Fee Increase Up Next

Meanwhile, in Denton, voting is underway on the increase to the student athletic fee by $6.25. Raising the current fee from $10.00 to $16.25 per credit hour. A reduction in the student services fee of $2.00 means the net increase is $4.25 per credit hour. The addition would give the Athletic Department a $3.5 million increase. The cost per credit hour would still be less than comparable fees at UTSA and Texas State. 

At the same time, North Texas is reporting a record high in private giving for the previous year, $8.9 million. Credit AD Wren Baker for the fundraising success. He's worked tirelessly to increase the profile of North Texas' Athletic programs since his hire. 

Among CUSA schools, $16.25 is a bargain as some schools charge $40.00 per credit hour to offset spending. Baker is trying to bring North Texas' fees in line with the average among its conference competitors. Voting opened Tuesday and closes Thursday. 

Rice Extends Contract on AD

Rice extended Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard's contract for three years. Karlgaard's led Rice to twelve conference titles in nine different sports since coming to Rice Village in 2013. Including the Owls' first outright conference football title in 2013. He's also overseen renovations to Rice Stadium, including the new Patterson Center in the North Endzone as well as renovations to Tudor Field House in 2014. 

In the past year, Karlgaard's made his two most important hires, first men's basketball coach Scott Pera last spring and then the hire of Mike Bloomgren in December to run the football program. 

Is Tom Herman Trending?

If you're looking for the key to success for the Texas Longhorns and Tom Herman, look no further than the 2018 rushing attack. For Herman, in three years as a head coach, the formula is simple, rushing success = winning. 

In 2015, his first year with Houston, the Cougars were a top 15 rushing team in the FBS, running for over 3,300 yards and nearly five yards per carry. The Cougars took the college football world by storm with a 13-1 record, conference title, and Peach Bowl win over Power 5 Florida State. 

A year later, with a preseason top 10 squad, the Cougars ran for just 1,700 yards at 3.4 yards a carry and fell to 99th in the FBS. The Cougars started strong but fell apart, finishing 9-4 and losing a bowl game. 

22 wins in two years landed Herman in Austin. The quarterback whisperer and "mastermind" guided the Horns to a 7-6 finish. Texas ran for just slightly over 1,609 yards, good enough for 96th in the FBS, and their leading rusher was a true freshman quarterback. In losses and against ranked teams the Texas rushing game shrank to the occasion, finished with just 2.4 yards per carry in losses and 1.9 yards a carry vs. ranked teams. 

It's easy to blame the issue on a rushing deficiency, but Charlie Strong didn't leave the cupboard bare. Texas finished with the seventh-best recruiting class in 2016 according to 24/7 and the tenth best in 2015. That's the meat of this Texas roster. While there may not be any magic dust to sprinkle, Herman's had trouble instilling a physical mindset in his teams. 

2018 might be critical because Herman's squad will either continue the trend or perhaps break it and push above say 2,500 rushing yards, which would put them into the top 40 among FBS competitors. If Herman's offenses continue to struggle on the ground, then the trend is further cemented, and wins will again be hard earned. 

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