Football at NKU?

With college football season moving into full swing, the question must be asked: why doesn’t Northern Kentucky University have a football team? Students here should be able to look forward to Saturday afternoon football games on campus. … Shouldn’t they?

According to NKU Athletic Director Jane Meier, the administration at NKU has not ignored the thought of someday gaining a football team. According to Meier, in January 1997, the Board of Regents supported the idea of adding football with the understanding it had to be fiscally viable for the university.

“We weren’t going to add a program just to add a program,” said Meier. “We were going to make sure if it was going to happen it was going to be done right. It would have to benefit the community as well as the university.”

In July 1997, then-new University President James Votruba hired outside consultants to look into whether or not the university could take on the fiscal responsibility of adding a football team. The consultants came back with results showing that the way the university was planning on funding the new program wouldn’t work within the university’s budget. This caused the board to shelve the idea of adding a football program, and this is where we currently stand.

“Basically, the idea of having a football team at NKU didn’t work out because of financial reasons,” Meier said.

The university in 1997 started a new fee in student tuition, which took $20 per semester from every student’s total fees and put it towards the athletic department.

“With the fees set in place, that would bring in approximately $350,000 to put toward starting a football team,” Meier said. “The average Division II non-scholarship football program costs around $650,000 to $700,000, (so) we still wouldn’t have enough money. It just wouldn’t be a viable option for the university.”

NKU also lacks the proper facilities to house a team.

Upgraded locker rooms, training rooms and Title IX also would be a huge factor in the creation of a university football team. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is the legislation that bans sex discrimination in schools, in both academics and athletics.

To add a football team with 50-plus male athletes, the university would be required to add the same number of female athletes for a comparable sport.

Some of that $20 per-semester student fee went toward a women’s soccer program, and construction of a new on-campus softball field helped bring gender equity to the university.

The athletic department is now focused on securing funds to build a regional special events center on the Highland Heights campus.

Meier said that while the possibility of adding a football team is not good for now, nothing should be ruled out.

So, as other schools plan homecomings and tailgate parties during the fall football season, NKU’s students will be sitting around watching those teams play on Saturdays, wishing they could be a part of the action.