College Sports

Eagles football? I think I'll pass

The big news at Winthrop this past week was the announcement that the university had been looking at what it would take to start a football program.

For the past year, a group of very smart individuals with open minds have been putting together the facts -- and the figures -- that tell the story of just what kind of investment it would take.

Right now, it's like me thinking about buying a vintage 1963 Corvette. Red convertible, of course. I've gone on Corvettesforsale.com. I know what it would take.

I know unless that lottery ticket hits, I'm going to still be driving my 1988 300ZX with 260,000 miles, which ain't all that bad. It gets me where I want to go and still looks pretty good. And it's paid for.

But as my daddy once said, it never hurts to look.

And that's what Winthrop president Anthony DiGiorgio asked the committee, chaired by director of athletics Tom Hickman, to do. Take a look at what it would take to start a football program so that when someone asks, the answers can be provided.

It was a smart thing to do, the right thing to do and probably should have been done a long time ago. They now know what the price tag would be. They know they need to hit their own version of the lottery -- in this case, one or several donors willing to supply the roughly $18 million needed just to get the program off the ground.

Does taking a look make it a certainty Winthrop is going to be playing football in the next couple of years? The next five? Next 10?

No.

Does it mean Winthrop will be any less a university if it doesn't have football? That students will somehow be without significant sports to rally around and support?

No.

Winthrop still has a pretty good athletic program to "drive" and with or without football, DiGiorgio and the other folks who run the university will do everything in their power to make those programs the best they can be.

Already, just about every program the university fields is championship-competitive in the Big South Conference. About all are fully funded, meaning just about all the money is there to provide scholarships and support for 17 teams.

There is no doubt football is big in South Carolina. There's little doubt a program at Winthrop would be successful in the long run, because the university is committed to success at every level, academic and athletic.

And if there is an investor out there willing to plunk down the necessary capital to get football off the ground, he or she just might get quite a return for their trouble.

A football program, some think, would be great.

Is it necessary?

No.

A Corvette would be great.

Necessary?

No.

But you can look.

Meanwhile, as you ponder that first sun-splashed Saturday of tailgating by Winthrop's new football stadium with the ham biscuits hot and beverages cold, maybe coming out of the trunk of your Corvette, remember this.

Basketball practice starts Friday.

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