OPINION: Wichita State needs to create a soccer program


Ryan Crabtree (#11) takes a corner kick fot Wichita State

There has been discussion for awhile about when Wichita State University is going to get a football program again. I am fully behind this idea. However, many have the knowledge that starting a football program would cost tons of money. Instead, I suggest the idea of starting a soccer program.

Cessna Stadium needs to be renovated, and also getting great recruits for college football might be difficult considering how many football programs are established and moderately successful in the Midwest, and our nation.

According to a story written by KWCH 12 in 2016, it would be an estimated cost of $43 million to $49 million just for practice facilities and the renovation of Cessna Stadium. This does not include salaries for coaches, equipment, recruiting, and other fees.

Also, three of the universities that include some of Wichita State’s toughest competition across all sports have decided to leave the American Athletic Conference and go to the Big 12 in 2023. These three schools are the University of Cincinnati, the University of Central Florida and the University of Houston. All three of these schools have football teams.

Since starting a football program probably isn’t going to happen soon, my proposal to the Wichita State Athletic Department is to start a men’s and women’s soccer program. I know football is more popular in the United States. However, let’s consider how popular soccer has gotten in the United States in the past several years.

In the past seven years, the United States Women’s National Team has won the World Cup twice, and they have won two Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal in the past seven years. According to ncsasports, there are more than 1,500 women’s college soccer programs in the United States spanning across five different division levels. Also, the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States has been around since 2012.

I know some may make the point about how the United States Men’s National Team has not qualified for a World Cup or the Olympics in a while. However, let’s still consider how many men play soccer in the United States.

The men have their own professional  league in the United States which is referred to as Major League Soccer. According to ncsasports.org there are more than 1,400 men’s college soccer programs in the United States. Also, let’s think about how many high school college soccer athletes get recruited out of travel ball to play juco, out of state, or go to a school several hours away because there is no Division One or Two program in the area.

Think about the enrollment of the college as well. There are so many great athletes that play football that men’s soccer gets overshadowed and people may not think about it as much.

My last point is some may wonder if the AAC  even has enough men’s and women’s soccer programs. The AAC currently has 11 women’s soccer programs. For the men there are currently eight teams in the conference. Even though three teams will leave to go to the Big 12 in three years, the women’s program would have seven teams if Wichita State had a women’s soccer program. The men’s soccer program would still have six teams in the conference if Wichita State were to join after UCF leaves.

Soccer may not pop into a fan’s mind or a student’s mind but let’s think about it here. You need about 21 – 34 players per team for a soccer program. Some other expenses to think about are uniforms, coaching salaries recurring, training equipment, field maintenance, goals, and soccer balls.

To give an estimated idea of how much it would take to start a soccer program, the estimated total expenses for the Kansas State University Women’s Soccer Team is about $1.5 million dollars according to collegefactual.

I do not know about you, but that sounds cheaper than starting a football program.