Win games on the field and in the classroom

UTSA’s football program is on the cusp of its first inaugural season. The city is buzzing with excitement as we finally have a college team that represents San Antonio.

We have a big-name coach that has a national title under his belt, a huge stadium that will hold up to 65,000 people and a ton of fans and media that are ready to experience the pageantry and passion that is college football. The allure of Division I college football is at an all time high amongst Americans, and these top football programs earn exorbitant amounts of money for their respective schools.

Some people see our football program as a legitimizing tool that will help to further propel our school into the national spotlight. Football has quickly become the national pastime and schools are establishing and marketing programs to their areas and alumni. The question really is what does football mean for UTSA?

With football at the forefront, hopefully academics won’t take the biggest backseat. UTSA has been striving to be a Tier One academic school over the last few years, but football seems to be where the majority of donations, resources ¬and attention will be directed over the next few years.

UTSA isn’t exactly known for their fantastic academics. According to US News, UTSA has an 19 percent five year graduation rate. The University of Texas at Austin has a 51 percent four year graduation rate and Texas A&M has a 45 percent rate. UTSA accepts 87 percent of all students that apply. UT-Austin accepts 45 percent and Texas A&M accepts 67 percent.

San Antonio needs a research university to first attract bigger corporations in search of a more educated work force. Having a public research university should be the pinnacle of San Antonio’s achievement, not our college football team.

Red McCombs recently donated a million dollars to the UTSA Athletic program to build practice facilities at the new UTSA Park West Campus. Even though I’m sure that all the athletes are extremely excited to have brand new facilities to peruse about, I’m also sure that many of our academic programs could use additional donations to improve academics and facilities.

Still, the ball will be hiked in under two weeks to the roars of cheers from the crowds and media alike. Just remember that having a football team doesn’t validate UTSA as a university. Football is a great escape from the real world, but it certainly will not produce new medical technology to cure diseases, innovative engineering ideas for technology, business ideas and models for a changing global economy, or anything else that can help improve America, Texas and San Antonio.

Football is a game that most people love to watch; however, many schools have pushed their programs to be the center of their university’s attraction. I hope that someday UTSA is known for its academics more than its football program because that will say more about the school as opposed to the football team’s record. Then maybe when you wear your overpriced UTSA football athletic t-shirt, people will recognize that you have a great education and are not just a passionate fan.