Update: Students voted against the proposal.
There are 120 teams in Division I-A college football, but some are on the list by name only. They truly don't belong on the same field as the big boys.
Louisiana Monroe is one such team. The Warhawks have yet to play in a bowl game since the program was elevated to I-A in 1994 and the program remains woefully underfunded. According to the Monroe News-Star, Louisiana Monroe has the lowest annual athletic budget — $8.5 million — in I-A. Of that total, $2.98 million went to football in 2009, according to the Equity in Athletics Database.
Now the school holding out a tin cup in hopes the 6,007-member student body can help.
This week, students will vote on a referendum to dramatically increase aid to the athletic department. Students currently pay $22 a semester toward athletics, but the fee will increase to $10 a semester hour up to 12 credit hours, meaning the majority of students will pay $120 a semester.
Coach Todd Berry has been lobbying students to approve the measure.
"This is already kind of at the bottom of Division I-A, and there's things that need to happen that are going to help us have success."
- "Are these people nuts? ... I pay enough for tuition and books, the last thing I need is another $120 added to my bill for something that I could care less about."
- "So ULM athletics — which hasn’t had a winning football season in Malone Stadium since 1993 — wants students to pay a fine — oops, I mean, fee, to continue funding the losing tradition? Sure, football isn't the only athletic endeavor on campus but it's by far the most costly in addition to being the worst performer."
- "The problem I see here is the the folks in athletics aren't doing their job. These fools need to go out and do some serious fundraising, securing sponsorships, etc."
- "If they want to fill the stadium, let's see them schedule games between West Monroe High School and ULM, just prepare for ULM to lose."
- "Before making each ULM student pony up nearly $250 a year just to reinforce failure, perhaps the university should first honestly explore the option of moving its football team to the FCS.
Couldn't agree more. Louisiana Monroe — like many I-A teams — is simply out of its league.