This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage.
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page
Football Program Upgrade - Questions & Answers
The University of Connecticut
Task Force on Division I-A Football
October 29, 1997
1. Why is the opportunity to upgrade its football program important to the academic future of the University of Connecticut?
The University of Connecticut is moving rapidly in accordance with its Strategic Plan to become one of the nation's premier public universities. The University is developing world class academic programs, implementing the UCONN 2000 plan, expanding its base of private support, and strengthening connections in the Connecticut business community. The upgrade of UConn's football program to Division I-A and the construction of a new stadium in Storrs can play a significant role in building the quality of the University's academic program in the following ways:
Division I-A football will contribute to UConn's standing as a nationally recognized University and help move us into the top ranks of public institutions of higher education. The public tends to judge institutions by their peers; virtually every major public university with a strong academic reputation can also lay claim to a significant athletic program. Major athletic programs at schools like Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia have been helpful to these institutions as they have sought to recruit outstanding students and faculty and they will be helpful to similar efforts here.
Division I-A football provides unique opportunities to raise additional private funds, which will be used for a wide range of academic programs.
Major collegiate athletics promotes a keen sense of enthusiasm on campus and across the state, embracing student life and bringing thousands of visitors to campus. In the case of basketball, that enthusiasm helped build a base of support for UCONN 2000, the program that is rebuilding the University's academic and residential facilities.
2. Why have the Governor and UConn Board of Trustees endorsed a Storrs stadium location?
The stadium's location on campus is essential to the enhancement of student life, recruitment of prospective students, expansion of alumni involvement and furtherance of University development efforts.
3. Why is the North Campus location the recommended site for the stadium?
The 100 acre North Campus site chosen by the Board of Trustees is adjacent to the core campus and has several overwhelming advantages. Foremost among these is student access: students could walk to games. The proximity to the main campus would make the stadium a natural extension of UCONN 2000 activities. Proposed additional parking spaces (1,000 paved and 3,500 grass) would be close enough to be useful to students and staff every day; on game days, this site could readily take advantage of existing parking capacity, including the new 1,100 space garage being built directly across the street. Site planning includes a proposed road from North Eagleville Road to Route 44; this critical improvement for UConn and the town of Mansfield would help reroute everyday traffic and minimize congestion of event night traffic to Gampel and Jorgensen. Site proximity also allows for practice fields and facilities on-site--a much more efficient use of space and dollars which would free up the existing Memorial Stadium site for much-needed recreational space for students.
4. What are the major design elements of the proposed stadium?
The stadium is designed to be a good quality, functional, customer-friendly facility that is appropriate to collegiate sports and capable of supporting a successful and competitive Division I-A football program. The design provides chairback and premium spectator seating for 35,000 and is amenable to expansion to 50,000 seats in the future if warranted. It includes club seating with amenities for 800 patrons and 24 box suites. The field is a natural turf playing surface. The facility, comparable to what is provided by other Division I-A programs, incorporates appropriate space for home team and visiting team lockers, football and special events, spectator support areas, concessions, skybox/pressbox, ticketing and various related support areas. The design also includes space to house support activities such as sports medicine, strength training, football equipment/storage and offices/meeting rooms, as well as an indoor practice field (a pre-engineered enclosure). Eight acres are set aside for practice fields (both natural and artificial) and associated spectator parking.
5. What is the cost of the proposed stadium?
The preliminary estimate of costs to build the stadium on the North Campus site is $106.7 million in current dollars.
This includes approximately $52 million in base stadium cost; $14.4 million for the athletic support facilities described above; almost $9 million for site work, utilities, land acquisition and the new road; $3 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment; $4.4 million for parking; $2.8 million for off-site road improvements (based on a preliminary analysis by the State Traffic Commission for a 40,000 seat stadium), $7.7 million for stadium architectural and engineering services, surveys and inspections, and specialty work (including lighting, acoustics, irrigation, security, traffic, etc.). The remaining $13.6 million includes the demolition and reworking of the existing stadium area, and the project contingency.
The site is hilly and would require cut and fill to accommodate the stadium's footprint, practice fields and parking. Geotechnical reports indicate bedrock of sufficient range to lead to the assumption that an in-ground stadium is not feasible.
6. Will the stadium serve as a venue for other activities?
The University hopes to use the stadium as much as possible to bring Connecticut's citizens to the Storrs campus. While the recently completed study does not assume any commercial events such as concerts, plans include activities such as high school football and soccer championships and band competitions. Please note that no significant net revenue is estimated from such sources--but the enhanced visibility and student recruitment potential for the University are extremely valuable nonetheless. Occasional special events, such as an international soccer match, may be scheduled.
7. What are the National Collegiate Athletic Association requirements for participation in Division I-A football?
The NCAA core requirements for reclassification from Division I-AA to Division I-A, as shared in a letter from the NCAA dated February 13, 1997, are summarized as follows:
The institution shall have averaged more than 17,000 in paid attendance per home football game in the immediate past four-year period, or the stadium utilized regularly for the institution's home games must contain a minimum of 30,000 permanent seats plus average more than 17,000 in paid attendance for home games played in that stadium in a least one year during the immediate past four-year period.
Note: Once an institution is classified Division I-A, attendance requirements may also be met in any of the following ways:
Averaging more than 20,000 paid attendance per football game (home and away) over the previous four years.
8. How do the attendance requirements affect the reclassification of the University's football program to Division I-A status?
The University of Connecticut is unable to meet the Division I-A attendance requirements until the football program moves into the proposed new stadium, which will occur in time for the 2000 football season. At the current time, the institution cannot meet the 17,000 average attendance provision since our football stadium seats only 16,200.
Therefore, the University of Connecticut will petition for reclassification to Division I-A status during academic year 2000-01 based on the average attendance and stadium configuration requirements.
If the University is not successful in meeting the attendance requirements during the 2000 football season, NCAA rules permit the University to petition for reclassification in subsequent years.
9. How will the operating costs associated with the football program be funded?
The costs will be fully borne by the University's Division of Athletics through revenue derived from sources such as gate receipts, media contracts, concession sales, away game guarantees and private fundraising. A ten-year analysis of program operating revenues and expenses indicates that while the existing operating deficit of $2.1 million grows during the transition to Division I-A (peaking at $2.9 million in FY 2000), upon full participation in the Big East Conference the program produces positive financial results as early as FY 2005. UConn's Board of Trustees, administration, University Senate (faculty and staff) and students support the upgrade of the program upon the condition that the upgrade not divert resources from the academic program.
10. How has the University's share of the athletic budget changed over the past several years?
In FY 1990, the Division's budget was $8.3 million, 59% of which was funded by University support, and 41% of which was funded by revenue generated by the Division of Athletics. In FY 1998, the Division's budget is $19.4 million, with the University providing 30% and the Division 70% of funding. Scholarship support offers an insight into the shift of funding sources: in FY 1991, athletic scholarship costs totaled $1.6 million, with the Division of Athletics funding 10%. In FY 1998, athletic scholarship expenditures have grown to $3.7 million, with the Division carrying 90% of the costs. These funds are raised externally and are paid annually by the Division to the University's general fund--an excellent example of how athletic revenue and fundraising benefit UConn as a whole.
11. Is the budget of the Division of Athletics dedicated solely to programs for intercollegiate athletics?
No. In addition to offering 23 intercollegiate athletic programs, the Division provides structured intramural and informal recreational activities for UConn's student body. This year the University expects 275,000 visits to its sports facilities by members of the UConn community.
12. Has the University anticipated the impact of the football upgrade on Title IX (gender equity) requirements?
UConn's commitment to full compliance with Title IX requirements predates the football upgrade; the University took a proactive position in ensuring access to and quality of athletic programs for women. In 1995, the Board of Trustees adopted a detailed compliance plan and subsequently incorporated into its multi-year budget balancing plan the estimated cost of the compliance program. The budgeted costs: $610,000 in 1996-97, $960,000 in 1997-98, and $1.01 million in 1998-99. Projections go to $1.5 million in the ensuing two years.
13. Is there the potential for another restructuring of the National Collegiate Athletic Association? If so, what impact could this have on The Big East and on UConn's participation in the Conference, including men's and women's basketball?
There is already talk of future restructuring of the NCAA. In a recent letter from Roy Kramer, Southeastern Conference Commissioner and leader of the original restructuring process, he states that, "As the newly restructured governmental framework of the NCAA begins to operate, it is becoming more and more apparent that conferences will be the most significant entity in the regulation of intercollegiate athletics. It also becomes more evident each day that the dominant voices in this new structure will be those of the I-A conferences.
"The new structure is clearly established to give the I-A member institutions the ability to control and dictate the solutions of the major issues which affect intercollegiate athletics such as academic integrity, student-athlete eligibility, competitive standards, financial aid and the economic structure of television and post-season competition.
"In my opinion only institutions which are members of I-A conferences will be in a position to have a major voice in the future of intercollegiate athletics."
The Big East Conference recent Commissioner's Update explained that "the last five years have been at times tumultuous for the governance of The Big East Conference. Expansion was a painful issue for the Conference in 1994. And varying levels of Conference membership and NCAA play have created a complicated web of competing interests between members of The Big East and The Big East Football Conference. These disparate concerns have at times led to disputes over the continued structure of The Big East. Thankfully, with strong leadership and a universal vision, these disagreements have been settled. Today Big East basketball and football are full partners in our ever expanding success. Although our membership in now on common ground, we must continue to anticipate obstacles to our success as an all-sports Conference."
A restructuring of The Big East occurred as recently as 1994 with the addition of Rutgers and West Virginia (already members of The Big East Football Conference) and Notre Dame. While this action was taken to avoid the departure of the football institutions from The Big East, the potential for volatility persists. When viewed in light of the Kramer analysis, the Division I-A institutions may see little to be gained financially from continued association with the non-Division I-A institutions. Those schools not involved in I-A football are: Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, VillaNovember and the University of Connecticut, the only nonsectarian school in the group. Where will UConn find the opportunity to affiliate with a conference composed of institutions of similar size and mission if not included in The Big East Conference as it is structured today?
14. What are the benefits to the University of participating in Big East Conference basketball?
The benefits are many: for the state of Connecticut, pride; for the University, national recognition; for our students, excitement; and for our student-athletes , a phenomenal experience. Basketball also produces $11.4 million in revenue from the men's program and $2 million from the women's program. This revenue would be seriously jeopardized if restructuring precluded the University from continued participation in The Big East Conference.
15. What expertise was brought to the development of the October 1997 report titled Analysis For The University of Connecticut's Upgrade to Division I-A Football?
The consultant team was led by the national director of the KPMG Peat Marwick Convention, Sports and Entertainment Division. Stadium design, site and cost analyses were produced by Jeter, Cook and Jepson, a Hartford-based planning and architectural firm; HOK Sport; and Close, Jensen & Miller, P.C. HOK Sport is one of the preeminent stadium design firms in the nation, perhaps the world. This firm recently designed the renovation or construction of the following stadiums: University of Maryland, University of New Mexico, Camden Yards, Jacobs Field, University of Kansas, University of Virginia, University of Florida, Baltimore Ravens Stadium, the Washington Redskins Stadium, and the Royal Jockey Club (Hong Kong). Building construction budgets were based on the proposed program and were developed by Clark Sports (Bethesda, Maryland) and Huber, Hunt & Nichols (Indianapolis, Indiana), two of the leading construction managers for stadium projects throughout the United States.
16. How does the University intend to handle environmental issues related to the proposed site, such as concerns about the old chemical pits and former University landfill?
The University is committed to full compliance with environmental standards. With regard to the chemical pits, the University has accomplished a successful remediation in accordance with a plan approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. Ongoing monitoring continues on a regular schedule and, to date, has raised no findings outside satisfactory parameters. The capping of the landfill had been planned previously by the University, but plans would be accelerated should the stadium project move forward. Once stadium design plans are in place, the University can proceed with the filing of a landfill closure plan with the Department of Environmental Protection in accordance with recommended standards.