Students should help contribute to athletics

Cameron Jett

Ethan Estis, I’ve got a proposition for you.

It’s going to make a lot of people roll their eyes. Because who really likes spending money?

But I’ll throw it out there because I think it has the university’s best interest in mind.

The school desperately needs an athletic fee.

See? I told you your eyes would roll. But at least pretend to hear me out.

To the casual fan, an athletic fee seems awfully similar to shoving money into a blender. But let me introduce you to a common concept at the Group of 5 level—money games.

Small schools get paid handsomely to—in most cases—get beaten beyond recognition by Power 5 programs.

Earlier this season, ULM had to play Texas and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide for some paychecks. According to 247 Sports, Texas paid ULM around $1 million to almost guarantee the Longhorns a 1-0 start to the season. Alabama felt more sympathetic and paid the school over $1.9 million.

That’s a lot of money. But two games like that are almost always two red Ls before the season begins. The only time ULM has appeared in a bowl game was after we miraculously beat a Power 5 school—Arkansas in 2012.

A fee of $150 per student would create around $1.3 million. That allows us to play a more meaningful game to start the season. With that spot, maybe athletics can convince the Bulldogs to get wrecked for old times’ sake instead of us playing teams competing for a national title.

Playing just one money game looks to be the way for successful Group of 5 schools. Across the Sun Belt, schools like Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State are looking much better by the time conference play rolls around because they only have one high-caliber Power 5 opponent to worry about.

Now here’s the part where the whole university benefits. The more games your school wins, the more your school gets noticed.

Sports will put the school on the map in a way that academics can’t do. Unless we can find a way to pack Fant-Ewing to cheer students on while they take a calculus exam, I believe that chipping in to give our athletic programs a boost is what the school and the region could use.

So Ethan, here’s your chance to draw something up that makes ULM look less like a wasteland of athletic success. And with no full-time athletic director named yet, something like this might persuade a hesitant hire.