Letter submitted by Andrew Robinson, WKU class of 2010. Robinson served as editor-in-chief of the Herald in Fall 2009 and Spring 2010.
Just a few weeks into my freshman year at WKU in 2006, the football team traveled to Georgia to play its first football game of the season. It was an annual foray into big-time college football. WKU had also traveled to the likes of Auburn and Kansas State in previous years.
Following its loss to Georgia, WKU played a schedule consisting of teams at its same level in I-AA or Football Championship Series, as it’s known today. The team finished a meager 6-5.
WKU should return to where it once was 15 years ago, before the ego of administrators hoped to follow in the footsteps of the darling Boise State.
Yes, there have been great moments. The Jeff Brohm era featured a prolific offense and conference titles. There have been bowl games won that wouldn’t have otherwise been played had WKU stayed at the I-AA level.
But what’s changed in college athletics is the rich have gotten richer, and WKU is spinning its wheels at the cost of its academic quality.
Have endowments increased as a result of football success? Have applications outside of the region increased as a result of national television appearances and the school being featured?
Fifteen years later, the question has to be asked: has it been worth it?
I recently read how there’s greater pressure to quit propping up the athletic department on the back of student fees and at the expense of the school’s general fund.
Moving back to the FCS level would remove WKU from an arms race in which it doesn’t stand a chance to compete. Sure, WKU is at the bottom of C-USA in terms of student fees, but that’s because other schools have been crazy enough to try to keep up with the Power Five schools. It shouldn’t be lost that the athletic director at Old Dominion, which uses the most student fees in the conference, is the same athletic director who was at WKU when it decided to move up to the FBS.
Administrators can spin all the exposure however they want, but I’m just not sure how a Facebook live audience or a game or two a season on CBS Sports Network does the job when the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee and Indiana have a true national television audience on a weekly basis.
I often see or hear that athletics are the front porch to the university. You can have the nicest front porch on the block, but what’s the point if you step through the door and the rest of the home is on shaky footing?
If WKU wants to be a leading institution, it’ll tap out of the football arms race while it still has its head slightly above water, and watch its brethren sink.