By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief
Sports have been an integral part of every culture dating all the way back to the Greeks. People love to watch individuals exhibit peak human performance for entertainment and to defend their favorite teams to the bitter end. It is woven into the very fabric of our society, and people devote hours just to watching their favorite sports.
However, Newman’s sports teams struggle to fill the stands, and students aren’t often seen supporting teams. Why might that be? It’s not very exciting to watch teams that don’t win. And why don’t they win? They are not being prioritized enough when it comes to funding — something the University claims is because of a tight budget.
The whole month of March is practically dedicated to college basketball. Brackets are busted, parlays are lost, and there are no real winners. Well, maybe one winner: The universities who advance further and further in the tournament.
A 2018 article from Forbes titled “How Hoops Success Helps Colleges Get Applicants,” reported that universities that had made it to the Final Four from 2009 to 2013 had seen an average 12.9% boost in applications in the following year vs. the 4.2% average the rest of the nation’s colleges experienced.
Say what you want, but sports matter to people, especially seniors in high school looking for the college with the best student experience. Who wants to go to a school where they don’t have good teams that win often? I can say that if money had been no object, I would’ve gone to Kansas State University for the football team alone. I may be a Jet, but I bleed purple when it comes to college sports.
Not only does Newman lack Greek life, a major contributor to student life involvement, but we also lack teams with records that routinely draw students out to games.
Let me be clear: I am not placing blame on coaching, players or the athletic department. I am just saying that if you want more enrollment, a great place to start is by boosting your sports teams. In turn, more athletes will want to come to your school, which increases your odds of winning. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Wichita State is a great example of this process working. After WSU dominated basketball for several years with Coach Gregg Marshall, the school experienced a huge influx of applications. More students meant more tuition, more tuition meant more money to improve the campus, and a better campus drew more students. Even without a stellar basketball team in recent years, WSU still has decent enrollment numbers.
Unfortunately, we can’t build better sports teams when budgets are so tight that teams can barely afford their equipment or when facilities are so outdated that it hinders the ability to improve performance. At Newman, teams like softball and baseball spend hours tending to their natural fields rather than spending that time practicing because they can’t afford turf fields. The volleyball, cheer and dance, and basketball teams often lose precious practice time because they are all fighting for time in the same gym.
Enrollment at Newman has recovered since COVID, but tuition continues to rise despite that. Newman is desperately trying to entice people to enroll, but I think they’re going about it the wrong way. An overkill of student life events or a new niche club isn’t going to draw applications in, but I think better sports teams will. They have to invest in them first if they want to make this a university people want to pay over $30,000 a year to attend.