UMass: Krafting a better football team
April 25, 2011
Patriots' owner Robert Kraft deserves credit for bringing more big-time college football to New England when he struck a deal that allows the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to play all their home games rent-free at Gillette Stadium starting in 2012. Having the high-class Foxborough facility as a home field enables UMass to join the Division I Mid-American Conference and lure bowl-bound football powers onto its schedule.
The move is already building excitement among UMass graduates, for whom Saturdays in Foxborough could be a great bonding experience, and it could pay off for the university in some other respects, too. If Massachusetts residents come to see the UMass team as an expression of Bay State pride, it will help build greater political and community support for the state's leading public university.
Welcome as the UMass ascent to collegiate football's Mt. Olympus may be, policymakers should be aware that the costs in athletic scholarships and expanded coaching staffs will be considerable. UMass anticipates that its football expenditure will jump from $4.4 million in 2010 to $6.9 million for the 2013 season. Purely as an economic venture, or as a means of enhancing a university's national standing, a top-tier football program is no panacea -- and certainly no substitute for enhanced academic resources.
But pride doesn't come with a pricetag, and watching UMass match up against national powerhouses will provide an extra point of identity to fans of the sometimes neglected university -- that is, as long as the Minutemen make a good showing on the field.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.