As a student, I love to go watch the Broncs whenever I get the chance and cheer them on. I would love it if Rider would reinstate the football program. It’s something that I’m sure has been discussed before, but with a new president ready to take the reins, the conversation needs to be had.
We don’t need a huge stadium or a $10 million training facility. Rider’s new president, Gregory Dell’Omo, is coming from Robert Morris University, which has a Division III football team. With a new president, we could open up a conversation about expanding Rider’s soccer and field hockey field seating.
Another concern is having to dish out thousands of dollars on football scholarships, but a possible solution would be to start off as a Division III football program, which does not hand out athletic scholarships.
An example of how the addition of a football program can be beneficial is Shenandoah University, a small school in Winchester, Virginia. Shenandoah added a football program in 2000, and after six years, it was able to build three new residence halls, and campus life has been energized by the sport.
“At a time when the image of major college football has been sullied by academic, recruiting and sexual violence scandals — and as some prominent colleges eliminate football to cope with federal gender equity regulations for athletics — many smaller institutions have embraced the sport. Since their football players generally do not receive scholarships and are not blue-chip recruits, officials at small colleges say the players tend to exhibit less of a sense of entitlement, leading to fewer academic and discipline problems,” according to The New York Times on July 10, 2006.
Others argue that by adding a football program, Rider would have to waste an unfathomable amount of money to sustain it. But according to the equity in athletics data analysis from the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, Shenandoah typically spends $99,910 on operating expenses for football. Rider spends more money in operating expenses in three different sports: men’s basketball ($173,091), women’s basketball ($162,259), and baseball ($104,192).
Title IX, the amendment that eliminates gender discrimination in sports, presents another obstacle. But there are simple solutions. Rider could add a women’s sport, such as golf or lacrosse, give those female athletes scholarships, and potentially be closer to fulfilling Title IX requirements. If we add a football team and generate a profit, that could open the door for more athletic programs, especially for women.
Naysayers will keep insisting that Rider can’t reinstate a football program because of x, y and z reasons, but I believe there is a lot of potential in doing this. It can be done if the interest from the higher-ups is strong enough. We don’t need to be spending as much money as bigger schools such as the University of Alabama or Ohio State University, but Dell’Omo presents a new opportunity for change.
Sophomore journalism major
Printed in the 02/25/15 issue.