Establishing an athletics department and competing in intercollegiate athletics

Success of Athletics
The body and all its abilities are as crucial to intelligence just like the mind. Indeed, this is the essence of college sports. In other words, college sports foster intellectual development although this is not the only importance of college sports. Besides its impact on developing students intellectually, college sports help students to develop strong community roots; motivate students by promoting their interest in college, and equip students with a wide range of professional attributes and life skills. To the colleges, sports serve as a source of revenue, enhance enrollment, and foster strong and constructive relationships between colleges. This demonstrates the need for the University of Houston Downtown to establish an athletic program for its students. In doing this, the University will need to put into consideration the cost implications of establishing and maintaining such a program, as well as the management of risks associated with the athletic department in colleges.
University success is influenced by the presence or absence of an athletic department in the university. The three main reasons in support of an athletic team at the University of Houston Downtown (UHD) include professional motivation, promotion of better health and fitness, and provision of professional opportunities. We strive to represent UHD as an overall great college, but we are missing out on a great chance to promote our school just like our neighboring colleges. An athletic team has the potential to bring in some much extra revenue for the school and would enable the institution to touch base with high schools preparing students to enter college. In many occasions, friends have sought to know why I preferred a college that does not have an athletics department over the ones that have this crucial department. UHD is already a great college in terms of professional staff that advises and guide students toward their overall success. A great sports team seems to be the missing link in the efforts to make it an institution of choice.

Support from coaching staff and fellow team members adds to the support from professors. Coaches are there for their team members on many levels; from helping them through emotional slumps to encouraging their academic aspirations. Boosting student morale will increase now that they know they have the whole school support both on and off the field. The synergy between the locker room and the classroom is particularly effective on a small campus where the athletics and academic programs are mutually supportive. Establishing an athletic team at UHD can be a big part toward promoting the college experience. Going to games, wearing the school colors, rooting for the home team all serve to unite the college community and provide a chance to enjoy some recreation when students are not attending classes. A good athletic program prepares students for success beyond the playing field. Some studies have shown that the transition from high school to college is easier for student-athletes. Being a part of a “team” as soon as you arrive on campus can jump-start the adjustment process.

Participating in athletics affords not only the benefits of regular physical activity, but a motivation to learn about and practice good nutritional habits, as well. You typically don’t find student-athletes surviving on pizza and ramen noodles. It’s a stressful time of the year on college campuses. Final projects, exams and the search for summer jobs and internships are forefront priorities for every student. One of the last things many students may be concerned about is going to the gym. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should engage in moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes a week coupled with strength training. With tight class schedules, project meetings, extracurricular activities and little time to sleep, is this a realistic goal for college students? Having an athletic team at UHD will motivate not only team members, but the college as a whole. Perhaps, students who never thought they would ever play any type of sport on campus may change their mind and decide to join one of the teams. Another benefit would accrue to a student who doesn’t necessarily want to join an athletic team but learns more about health and fitness through his/her own school department. Students can get an opportunity to learn about different exercise techniques through training programs as well as nutrition classes as more of them become interested. Having this kind of motivation can impact positively on students’ desire to lead a healthy lifestyle years after graduating from college.

Talented athletics at the University of Houston would benefit greatly from an athletics department since it would open up professional opportunities for them. Very few college athletes go on to play professional sports, but the social networks they develop through athletics and the team-building skills they gain on the playing field can give young athletes a head-start in the business world. Being a team leader or a good team player in college not only prepares a student for the business world, but also speaks volumes to potential employers about a student’s readiness for the professional community. Some may not even go on to play in professional leagues in a particular sport, but may enter higher levels of education and go on to study sports medicine or become a doctor. This opens up numerous opportunities, and if one athlete from UHD were to make it big in a professional sports team, then that would bring UHD in the spotlight. This, in turn, may lead to higher enrollment as it would serve to market the institution and connect it with other universities which would give it an edge over many other universities.

UHD financial Responsibility
UHD financial information
What are the financial costs associated with implementing an athletics program at UHD? Understanding the financial cost of establishing an athletics program at UHD would require an analysis of three aspects; students finance, location/structure, and other athletics expenses.
First, for UHD to establish and build athletics department, student’s tuition would have to increase slightly in the tune of hundreds for residents and thousands for non-residents. Again, university funding would have to be readjusted in other university programs, in order to accommodate the demand for location and structure and other expenses that an athletics program needs for funding the requirements of joining intercollegiate athletics .UHD total budget revenue for the year “2014 was 115,833,219”(reference #), its budgeted expenditures met the exact amount distributed into, —– . However, there is “available designated funds of 55,283,930” (reference #) that are used in their designated expenditures in “academic student affairs, admin & finance, and other transfers” (reference #). In a combined total, UHD is producing 171,117,149 in the year of 2014.
A comparison of UHD to other similar sized universities such as Stevenson MD University and University of Idaho reveals that it is possible for UHD to financially create intercollegiate athletics. The University of Idaho has a smaller number of enrolled students (reference #), than UHD – about four to five thousands less, and their rate of tuition is similar to UHD’s for resident and nonresident tuition per semester for fulltime undergraduate students (reference #). In addition, Stevenson MD University established an “intercollegiate athletics program from scratch by investing 500,000” to potentially lure new students to the University and to establish an athletics program (Reference #).
Second, UHD would have to first find a location with enough area for the construction of athletic buildings, stadium, practice fields, locker rooms, and training facilities. UHD greatest hindrance would be its location considering the fact that it is tightly sandwiched within Houston’s downtown, the 610 freeway, train tracks neighboring businesses, and the nearby neighborhoods. Putting into account the features surrounding UHD’s, there are two locations that can hold an athletic facility that is reasonably close and accessible to the university within a walking and driving distance.
The map below shows two possible locations that can comfortably hold the facility. The two locations are outlined and filled in green. The two green selected areas on the map are fairly sized, and if either of them is reasonably priced and meets development standards that support construction of a university athletics facility, then UHD will have found a potential location for putting up its athletics facility. Location one on the map is a fairly long and wide vacant lot that is situated in-between railroad tracks, a surrounding neighborhood and businesses, but it is a walking distance from UHD and students’ parking lots. Location two is in-between the student daily street lot park and ride parking lot and along the (—) bayou and train tracks.
If a suitable and affordable site is identified, then a relatively efficient and low cost sports facility, like The University of Idaho’s, Kibbie Dome, can be built (reference #). The Kibbie dome took “four years to be constructed and cost an initial 7.84 million dollars” (reference #). The Dome’s low cost and its versatility – the capacity to hold multiple athletic activities such as football, basketball, track, tennis, soccer and volleyball – makes it an appealing benchmark (Reference #). Another beneficial factor to the stadiums design is its indoor capabilities – it allows athletics and events to continue despite Houston’s abnormal weather which is characterized by humidity, heat, rain, and cold.
Using the Kibbie Dome as an example and applying the same principles of creating an athletic s facility – low cost, multi athletic, indoor capabilities, and ample space – it is possible for UHD to have intercollegiate athletics.
The third consideration is other financial expenses for intercollegiate athletics. Ticket sales, student fees, school funds, contributions, rights/licensing, and other forms of revenues can help UHD to counter balance the total expenses of scholarships, coaching/staff, building grounds, and other maintenance expenses.
By counter balancing its revenues and expenses, UHD can get additional revenue and make profit which can be redistributed to other university programs. The challenge would be to maintain UHD’s student enrollment; if student enrollment were to go down, the revenue that would have been gained from the facility can create a shortfall and the university may fall into a financial crisis. If enrollment were to increase, then more revenue can be generated and leave the university in a financial gain. A bonus to intercollegiate athletics with regard to finance is having a good season in certain sports, for example, football and basketball. Such sports are large enough and bring in a lot of money to universities. Again, if intercollegiate athletics are doing well, then it can potentially bring more new students to UHD and contribute to university success.

Risk Management Assessment
Social, humanitarian, legal and financial obligations prompt many Universities to set up an athletic department. The University of Houston Downtown move to establish an athletics department will bring about the obligation to make a reasonable effort to protect the safety and health of public and community members from any risk and hazard linked with the institutional operations including athletics programs. Any university has direct exposure to various risks both insured and uninsured concerning the respective athletics departments. Certain risks may be avoided while others can only be reduced, prevented or spread. Recognizing the responsibility and the need to preserve the resources requires the university athletics department mandate to evaluate the expected risks, and prepare policies and guidelines for both insurance and risk management (Nohr, 2009).
The university intercollegiate athletics program will be under the normal approval as curricular activities, just like all other academic programs. Intercollegiate competitions come along with risks, support and opportunities for the student-athletes to compete both athletically and academically. Athletic programs act as a focal point for the university spirit and identity, in congruence to cultural, academic, and the overall universities social facets in student’s body, athletics department and the overall university management. The athletics department acts as a decisive body for the university to enter into any athletic competition and operations. Most departmental heads will be bestowed with the authority to facilitate established policies necessary for athletics activity participation (Duderstadt, 2003). The resolutions and standing orders of the athletics departmental committee provide the correct oversight and policy formulations in the targeted universities for healthy students’ involvement in athletics.
The university departments have the responsibility to ensure that the athletics programs comply with the universal policies, law, procedures and the rules and regulations for appropriate governing of intercollegiate programs. There are also procedures and standardizations from the prime university administration, which need keen observation. Despite the many benefits and responsibilities given to the athletics department in conjunction with intercollegiate competition, there are various risks expected (Duderstadt, 2003).
The athletics department will normally face medical, liability, travel and other athletic risks. The current athletic programs face a legitimate lawsuit treatment in regard to several critical areas. It is worthy to scrutinize common risks such as alcohol and drug use, which are incompatible with any university athlete. Health risk also forms a great threat to the athletic programs. Any student-athlete will have a responsibility to report any form of injury to the respective trainer for the right remedy to be offered. Lack of comprehensive insurance cover at the University of Houston Downtown will certainly deprive many students the opportunity to participate in intercollegiate programs. In order to combat this potential setback, student athletes need the right health insurance cover for immediate treatment of threatening dehydration, weight loss, cold and other athletic related illnesses. Another profound risk concerns musculoskeletal injuries, which encircles injury history, biomechanics, and aerobic fitness psychosocial and psychological factors. Other lesions like strains, sprains, and dislocation are common in athletics and tend to scare many prospective athletes (Nohr, 2009).
The involved athletics committee and department should be ready to adopt the right risk measurement, identification, claims, evaluation and correct control method and offer the right recommendation for all intercollegiate participants. The great focus should be highly directed in foreseeing the possibilities of the associated athletics and financial risks. This will provide ample time to submerge any form of risk and give confidence and support for healthy athletics competition.

The importance of college sports cannot be underestimated. Running any college without an athletic department locks out many opportunities to both the students and the college itself. For this reason, the University of Houston Downtown should consider putting in place such a department in order to unlock the opportunities it is associated with. A feasibility study concerning putting up an athletic facility at UHAD shows promising prospects. It is evident that UHAD, like many other similar institutions, has the capability to put up the facility and maintain it. Important considerations regarding this undertaking include the potential cost both in the short-term and in the long run, management of risks associated with college sports, the maintenance of the facility and the sports program itself, as well as the possible location of the facility. None of these aspects seems to present any significant hindrance towards establishing an athletic department at UHAD. Therefore, the institution should embark on this project in the near future.

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