Students, faculty mixed on Winthrop football in town hall forum

Posted March 13, 2014 7:17 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

As promised — Winthrop University president Jayne Marie Comstock brought public discussion of a future college football program to the university community Thursday. Less than two weeks after reviewing the pros and cons of such a program with the school’s Board of Trustees, Winthrop faculty, staff and students offered their views on a team — many of which were mixed.

But Comstock, who has spent the last several months working on a comprehensive analysis of such a program, wasn’t caught off guard by the negativity.

“You have a mixed bag of views on this topic,” Comstock said. “What I hope is that now some of the views are more informed.”

Over the course of the 90-minute discussion, about 15 students, faculty and staff members offered their opinions on a program. Among the chief detractors: concerns of how a football program might affect the quality of academic programs. Others were concerned about the impact on class sizes and university resources.

Comstock dismissed both concerns with laying out a plan to increase student enrollment by 1,000 students over the next five years. Comstock said regardless of whether or not a football program was started, enrollment would increase resulting in the need for more faculty and staff.

“I believe there are people in the room who are never going to change their minds about football. They were pro-football when they walked in and regardless of what they saw they’re going to be pro-football. There are other people who are scared of a football program and believe that it might change Winthrop’s culture.” she said.

Very little new information was released during Thursday’s presentation. Projections revealed last week outlined the $11.1 million price tag to start a program, and the $2-$4 million annually required to support the program each year. By comparison, the Winthrop ballpark cost $11 million dollars to build and if the Winthrop Coliseum, constructed in 1984, were built today it would cost $34 million, Comstock said.

Additional town-hall style forums will be scheduled in the second half of the semester. Winthrop’s Board of Trustees will likely make a decision on Comstock’s reccomendation this fall.

“I’m looking for the objective response to this question,” she said. “I’m going to have to decide based on evidence, my best predictions for the future, about whether football and a marching band are the best thing for Winthrop.”