OPINION: Bring back Wichita State football


Manny De Los Santos/ The Sunflower

Cessna Stadium is 76 years old. It currently hosts Wichita State track and field events, the Kansas State High School Track and Field meet and other school related functions.

In 1986, Wichita State University made the decision to disband their football program, due to lack of funds and the lower attendance. However, now’s the time to bring it back.

During the time it was disbanded, football was not important to the school or Wichita area. WSU had an extremely successful basketball and baseball program and their goal was to not “waste” money on programs that did not matter or bring in a great amount of funds. Without having a successful season in over 20 years, the school lost hope. This was not the program’s fault because they went through a great amount of adapting and change from 1970 until the disbanding of the program in 1986.

In 1970, the football team was preparing to travel to Logan, Utah to take on the Utah State Aggies. Devastatingly, the plane crashed killing 31 individuals. Losing players in such a tragic way can cause PTSD.

Imagine seeing your friends, your teammates, and your family die so suddenly. Not many people wanted to attend football games at the stadium because the stadium represented loss and death.

Twelve years after the crash, a glimmer of hope was finally seen for the WSU football program. The 1982 football season was known as “The Last Great Season.” Under the direction of Headcoach Willie Jeffries, the first African American head coach to lead an NCAA Division1-A program at a predominantly white school. Jeffries led the school to an 8-3 record. Fans began to feel the excitement once more and attendance per game was over 23,000.

After the 1982 season, the Shockers began to struggle to win. The school lost patience and after receiving NCAA probation, the school made the decision to disband the team.

I feel as though the Wichita community has evolved enough to have a great fan base. Football is a major part of the average American’s everyday life. There are Kansas City Chiefs walking around every corner of this city, but who will they support in college? Rival basketball colleges? No, the Shockers fan base should have a football team and not need to travel to another school to watch.

One appeal of going to college is the community aspect of sports, adding on a football team would help to draw in more enrollment and create even stronger Shocker pride.

Not only has the community evolved, but so has student life. On Saturday nights, students travel to various colleges such as Friends University or Bethel College to attend football games. If WSU had a football program, students would not need to pay other schools to attend football games.

The money earned from the student life would go right into the football fund. If WSU created a new football team, I feel as though they would easily earn sponsorships. Under Armor is a major supporter of WSU athletics. Because of their support to our sports team, we can build a football team they’d support as well.

The WSU Shockers are not only known by Under Armor, but the whole country. Big celebrities like Leonardo Dicaprio have been seen wearing WSU basketball merchandise.

Having a football team could also help student athletes tremendously. Many young men and even women wish to play for the NFL one day, with the opportunity of playing football at WSU that would help make dreams come true.

Wichita State has created successful athletes in football in the past. 42 athletes have been drafted to the NFL. WSU has created other successful athletes in various sports because we put our heart into supporting them. Now it’s time to build a football team we can support as well.