Friday night lights
ACAC shines the light on what it is going to take to get football at SAIT
Representatives of the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) revealed significant startup costs and lack of expressed student interest are the main reasons for not having a football league.
Currently, the only institutions in Alberta that have a football program are the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.
Mark Kosak, chief executive officer of the ACAC, said he would love to see football in the conference.
Kosak also said that his personal opinion, but his professional opinion is it all comes down to money.
“Football would attract a lot of students, there’s no question,” said Kosak.
“But is the amount of students coming in and the tuition they’re paying going to justify the cost of running a football program?” “Football involves a significant startup cost to outfit sixty to eighty guys, so there’s a big input there,” said Mark Pretzlaff, athletics and recreation director at SAIT.
Pretzlaff said another big issue he sees with football is the minimum requirement of four teams.
“I’m not sure there would be enough support from the other ACAC schools to sanction football based on the costs associated with it,” said Pretzlaff.
There’s a big process the ACAC goes through when considering the addition of a new sport, according to Joel Mrak, athletics director at Concordia University of Edmonton.
That process includes gauging interest from students at all the schools in the conference, seeing if the sport would work, and estimating the costs of running the program.
“We can say we want football,” said Mrak.
“But, if it’s going to cost $300,000 to run per school, can we realistically allocate that money in our budgets?” Although the cost of running a football program is the key issue for ACAC schools, it’s not impossible to implement.
It all comes down to the students, according to Kosak.
Kosak said in order for football to happen, it has to come from the students. It’s not going to be proposed by any ACAC staff.
“It’s never from the top down, it’s got to be from the bottom up,” said Kosak.
There has to be a number of students who are willing to put in the time and effort.
A good way to go about it would be starting a club, according to Kosak.
The SAIT women’s hockey team started out as a club, created by a group of girls.
They found volunteer coaches, were granted ice time, given a locker room and found a league outside of school to play in.
Kosak said when a group of students does something like that, the ACAC has to look at it and realize maybe they have something here and they need to support it.
“Then they realize that there’s other schools in the ACAC that have the same kind of interest, and all of a sudden they have a league,” said Kosak.
According to Kosak, the same kind of thing would need to happen with football.
“You’d have to have a group of guys who get themselves organized, find a men’s league to play in and do the work themselves,” said Kosak.
“After a year or two, if that club is successful, the ACAC has to take a look at it and see there’s an interest at the student level.”