Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Omaha Attorney Looking to Rehash UNO Decision to Drop Football

A local attorney is calling a press conference tomorrow to call for the Nebraska-Omaha athletic department to further explain the rationale behind dropping the Mavericks football program. Why?  That's a good question.  Mike Degan is representing a former football player, and is pursuing more transparency in the reasons why football was dropped.  But for what reason?  Can the football program be salvaged?  Hardly; the players and coaches have been dispersed, and the equipment has been sold off. I suppose it could be restarted, but it would be starting from scratch.  Is it to embarrass UNO? More likely...but I'm skeptical that anything would emerge.  Too many football boosters cling to the belief that this was a decision solely made by Trev Alberts, when in fact, the decision was being driven by a group that included several Omaha area business titans.

ESPN tried this last year, and went nowhere.  I don't see where this could go anywhere either.  UNO football allegedly lost more than $1 million.  Is that number cooked?  Degan's push could give us more details...but I don't see how it will materially change that number.  UNO averaged 3,800 fans for a football game in the final 2010 season.  If you assume that each ticket averaged $10 in revenue, which could be generous when you consider students get in free, that's probably only $270,000 or so in revenue.  That wouldn't even cover the salaries of the coaching staff, let alone the 36 scholarships.

It's sad what happened to the Mavericks football and wrestling programs. But reopening these old wounds at this time is just ripping off the scab.  It's not going to change anything, and there's no evidence that the decision wasn't justified.

Some will argue that college athletics shouldn't be about money. But look around...it's all about money.  Look at the size of contracts for television and coaches. When athletic departments are self-sufficient such as at Nebraska-Lincoln, you can accept that level of spending. When those departments are receiving tax subsidies, especially in an era when the pressure is on government to slash spending, spending on athletics is something that people are going to question.  It's nothing new at UNO; two Nebraska regents tried to eliminate UNO football in 2006.

When you consider the long history of financial issues with UNO athletics, nobody should have been surprised by the decision to drop UNO football. Nothing significant changed in the ensuing years to resolve that deficit, which pretty much means that it's extremely unlikely that we'll learn anything new in the end.

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