Saturdays in the fall are a time when many college students unite around football, yet no yard lines or goalposts can be found at San Francisco State’s Cox Stadium.
This is because SF State has been a school without a football team since 1995.
This lack of a team is due primarily to Title IX according to SF State’s athletic regulations, which says that the percentage of female athletes must be within five percent of the entire female population on campus. There also must be near-equal percentages of male and female athletes on campus.
“With our current offerings, we couldn’t bring football in and stay within Title IX compliance,” Director of Athletics Charles Guthrie said.
This is not the only reason why football is no longer found on campus. Financial issues are also at play in bringing football back to campus, especially where the student body is concerned.
“I see football as a purely funding challenge here at San Francisco State,” Guthrie said. “Almost 90 percent of our (athletic) program is funded by student fees.”
Seeing as fees have increased this year to cover the Gator Pass and the newly opened Mashouf Wellness Center, Guthrie said he does not envision students wanting to pay even higher fees to bring back football at this juncture.
“We’re for the students, by the students,” Guthrie said. “Our sole purpose here, with our funding, the way we do expenditures, is to support students.”
Funding a Gator football team was one of the reasons the program was eliminated in the first place. Considering the team had not even had a winning season since 1973, the athletics department deemed it more reasonable to eliminate that high percentage of male athletes from the program.
Guthrie highlighted the fact that some of our remaining sports teams have improved in the past couple of years and the positive effect that has had on the school.
“Our teams have gotten better. When the teams are getting better and you win, people come out,” Guthrie said. “The school spirit here is ratcheted up a little bit (the past three years)… you come to our games, they’re packed with students. We have a dedicated base.”
Certainly, though, the student body is not without those who would like to see football back on campus.
“(Football) brings the community together and it could attract a lot of students to come watch and support the team,” SF State junior Terry Hendricks said.
Others, including SF State senior Carlos Cruz, have echoed similar sentiments over the past two decades that SFSU has been without football over the years.
“There’s an absence of school spirit that a big sports team brings to campus as long as (there’s) unity within the school’s community,” Cruz said.
Guthrie is more than willing to consider the idea of bringing football back to SF State as well. He feels the students have the power to start this discussion.
“The students have the voice and if that voice gets to the point where they decide football is important to them as a student body, and they want that, then I think that would be the conversation we strike up,” Guthrie said.
However, football has been in the news regarding concussions and their long-term effects from the many hits players take.
On this subject, Guthrie said, “football is having some interesting challenges now, with concussions and things of that nature. I think any time you look to add a sport, you have to understand what the risks associated with that are. If we sponsor something (as a school and athletic department), we’re going to be committed to the safety of our student athletes.”
Football may be a game of inches, but the process of bringing it back to SFSU would be a long one.