Saturday Night Lights at The Point

Excitement. Nachos. A perfectly manicured turf. Point Loma Nazarene University’s Green Sea goes wild as the wide receiver catches the ball and runs into the end zone scoring a touchdown. Students, alumni and the community are all cheering and roaring with excitement.

Third-year organizational communication major Bailey Runchey says that a large benefit of a potential football team would be the strengthened community that it would create on campus. Runchey transferred to PLNU from Cal Lutheran University, a small private school with a football team.

“I think we do more with baseball, and I think football brings people together a little more than that,” Runchey said.

While a football team may bring greater unity and excitement to our campus, PLNU athletic director Ethan Hamilton says that a football team would not be possible for our university for several reasons. In an email interview, Hamilton said that first, there are certain codes and regulations that the athletic department has to follow. The Title IX proportionality rule states that PLNU’s student athlete male-to-female ratio must remain proportional to our student population.

“Adding football would throw us completely out of Title IX compliance,” Hamilton said.

In addition, he listed a “lack of facilities and green space as a challenge” for the university. According to US News, PLNU occupies about 90 acres of land, in comparison to San Diego State which inhabits over 300 acres and still had to build a separate stadium in Mission Valley to house their football team.

According to the NCAA, expenses are around $6,609,000 for DII colleges with football programs. 

“[Football programs have] not only the direct costs associated with scholarships, personnel and operating budgets but also the indirect costs of needing more support and admin staff for sports medicine, sports performance, compliance and sports information,” Hamilton said.

The last reason Hamilton mentioned is competition. With PLNU being a small school in the West, it has made it difficult to compete because there are fewer universities to compete against.

“This was the primary reason that Azusa Pacific cut their football program 13 months ago,” Hamilton said.

Azusa Pacific University, another private Christian university, cut their football program on December 15, 2020 after 55 years of competing in the NCAA and the NAIA. In an article released by APU, it explains that the decision to cut the program was influenced by the decline of football in California over the past 30 years.

“During this time, 14 California four-year colleges have dropped football from their intercollegiate rosters, while only one has added the sport,” the article stated.

APU was one of the only universities in California that had an intercollegiate football program competing at NCAA Division II. According to APU Athletics, they now plan to invest in their 18 remaining sports.

Tim Hall, psychology professor and NCAA faculty athletic representative presented an additional challenge. 

“The residential community around Point Loma won’t even allow lights on the soccer field,” said Hall. 

While a football team may bring greater unity and excitement to our campus and sound ideal to students, evidence from our athletic director and APU’s recent decision indicates that intercollegiate football won’t be logistically possible for PLNU, at least not in the near future.

Written By: Talia Bostic