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Fans quick to call for change in Athletics

Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 01:01


On Jan. 1, USF’s mascot Rocky the Bull enjoyed a $20,000 check for winning the Capital One Mascot Challenge. The next day, Rocky hoisted that giant check at a USF press conference complete with USF President Judy Genshaft and multiple coaches there to celebrate.

The same day of that press conference, UCF football coach George O’Leary and the Knights had a celebration of their own after winning the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl over Baylor. Instead of a check, O’Leary hoisted a gold-encrusted football as the trophy.

For some USF fans, the old saying of the grass being greener on the other side has never been more apparent. Seeing a slightly over-the-top, confetti-ridden press conference for Rocky, after a 2-10 football season while their rival school was in a bowl game, rubbed those fans the wrong way.

On Jan. 2, Voodoo Five, a blog focusing on USF sports, posted an article titled “USF wins a mascot contest. Meanwhile, UCF wins a BCS bowl game.” Beneath is a subhead that reads, “How much more obvious does it get that USF Athletics is a complete disaster?” 

The Palm Beach Post published the article on its website the day of. In addition, the article was posted to change.org, petitioning it to have it published in The Oracle. The petition has reached more than 100 signatures. 

Change is what they demand — a change in USF Athletics. Some blame Genshaft, some blame USF Athletics Director Doug Woolard

Whoever is to “blame,” fans view USF Athletics as an overall failure when that simply is not the case.

Fans have every right to be disappointed in USF football. The team has not delivered an above .500 season in four years. USF coach Willie Taggart is new to the team, along with his entire staff, and change isn’t an overnight deal, but 2-10 was the result, and fans weren’t happy.

Apart from football though, fans should be anything but upset at USF Athletics.

While it’s true that Athletics does spend $12,027,850 on football, according to the latest figures USF Athletics reported to the Office of Postsecondary Education, football also brings in $16,295,130 in revenue — more than $10 million more than any other sport. 

Still fans remain upset. After all, students make up a big portion of those funds. Each Tampa campus student pays a $10 athletics flat fee and branch campus students pay a $5 dollar flat fee in addition to the $14.15 per credit hour athletic fee, and thus students may feel entitled to perfect teams. 

Perhaps they can’t see the bigger picture, maybe because they aren’t around to see it.

USF men’s golf, men and women’s soccer, softball, baseball and women’s basketball — all sports that have delivered USF plenty of success in recent years. That’s a total of seven teams, yet fans call for massive change in USF Athletics over one sport, a sport that USF has completely done over from a staff standpoint.

And just as actions speak louder than words, they should also speak louder than dollar signs.

Sure, plenty of money is pumped into the football program but have fans already forgotten the new baseball stadium or the new softball stadium? How about the new soccer field? The renovations to the Sun Dome certainly help the basketball teams. A new golf facility was recently added as well. Now, there are talks of a new tennis facility being built in years to come.

Talking dollars and getting donations is fine, but it is doubtful all of that was free.

Everyone has heard respect isn’t given, but earned. For the fans that have lost respect for a “failing” USF Athletics program, is it fair to say that those same fans earned that respect in the first place?

It’s USF Athletics’ job to produce winning teams. It’s the fans’ responsibility to create that winning atmosphere.

Softball, arguably USF’s most consistently successful team, won the Big East Conference last season along with nabbing two wins in NCAA Regionals. The team made it as far as the NCAA World Series the season before and hasn’t had a record below .500 since the 2009-10 season.

The men’s golf team was featured in Times Square after this past season after also winning the Big East. USF baseball enjoyed being ranked at one point, just as the softball team has, and made it to the Big East Championship. 

The women’s basketball team was featured in the NCAA Tournament just last season, something the men’s soccer team has done since 2007 and made it to the Elite Eight twice in that time period. The women’s soccer team, which has been an above .500 team for the past two seasons, went undefeated at home last season with an 8-0-3 record.

Yet the stadiums of those teams are left barren or half-full — or half-empty depending on what type of fan you are.

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13 comments

Anonymous
Thu Jan 23 2014 09:49
The Coaches of both mens Basketball and the Football team make more then the University President
Anonymous
Tue Jan 14 2014 16:02
Woolard and Genshaft are the two biggest reasons why our sports programs suck.
Anonymous
Mon Jan 13 2014 12:55
Jim Leavitt was the winner. The fans are the losers
Anonymous
Wed Jan 8 2014 11:34
Invest in the WWE !
JayM
Wed Jan 8 2014 10:48
It is time for Doug to retire. USF needs to go to somewhere like Louisville and hire the Assistant AD. USF and Tampa Bay have always been a community that will support winning but they are not going to just blindly go to games for no reason.

There are other reasons that football has struggled. The policy change to only allow automatic qualifiers has been DISASTEROUS for getting talent on the football field and to a lesser extent basketball court (remember Austin Waverly who is playing at Oregon). Until Doug changes this policy Coach T and Coach Heath are going to have an uphill battle. Although I think Coach Heath has done a great job so far.

Anonymous
Wed Jan 8 2014 00:32
Ditto!
Anonymous
Wed Jan 8 2014 00:28
As a member of the alumni association I was going to leave a comment, but all I can do is say ditto to the one already left.
Anonymous
Wed Jan 8 2014 00:08
USF Athletics is a money pit that has been sucking cash for years.

Stick a fork in it ....it's done

Anonymous
Tue Jan 7 2014 23:30
Go and check the American Athletic Conference website. The best any USF sport did was 4th. Most all finished in the bottom half of conference. That is the definition of mediocrity. Facilities are nice. So are wins. Where are the conference championships? Where are the end of season top 25 rankings?
Anonymous
Tue Jan 7 2014 22:20
Go and check the American Athletic Conference website. The best any USF sport did was 4th. Most all finished in the bottom half of conference. That is the definition of mediocrity. Facilities are nice. So are wins. Where are the conference championships? Where are the end of season top 25 rankings?
BullMark
Tue Jan 7 2014 18:44
Is Doug Woolard ghost writing now under the name of Adam Fenster for the Oracle? Must need the money for landscaping at his island getaway or for the boat cleaning boy that works on his yacht. USF through its students/parents, fans, and donors has paid DW a kings ransom for some minor Title IX sports success. He was more successful in these "minor" sports, that do nothing but drain the athletic $$ coffers, when he was a Billiken. That's where he should have stayed, he doesn't know how to run a FBS athletic department and we are in significantly worse financial shape as a result. Give him an apple and a roadmap.
Josh
Tue Jan 7 2014 14:52
Let's be honest, the REVENUE sports are the ones that will put USF in the national spotlight...
Anonymous
Tue Jan 7 2014 12:16
You've a right to your opinion and one can understand why you'd have the one you do, considering you're a student at the school and not someone who is spending tens of thousands of your own dollars as a direct contribution to USF athletics. When you put the kind of money and time into USF sports that the average fan and booster have, you demand something for that sacrifice. You suggest that calling USF athletics a "complete disaster" is hasty. The opposite is true. It has been a disaster for many years. The only possible way one can draw that conclusion is if they had a short view of the situation. It IS a complete disaster and is has been ever since Lee Roy Selmon left the building. You tout golf and softball as big accomplishments for the program, as if anything the athletic department has done has made that possible. USF is in a golf rich region of the country with an on-campus golf course that existed before anyone in the athletic department management were around. Your position is obviously one to support management, which is a complete failure. Once you are spending tens of thousands of your own dollars to support athletics, your tune will change. Once you're out in the real world, working in a real job where there are consequences for your own failures that you will be held responsible for, your tune will change. You'll start to see that the school is being bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for inferior performance and that our students are subsidizing that travesty. You'll see that you'll get fired for the kind of failures that this management team has been responsible for. This demand for change of management is NOT hasty, it's been a growing storm for years. If ever you want to know where you stand in the world, check your peers. USF is the ONLY school in the Big East to not win a share of the conference title in football. That's despite having the second best average attendance and typically being in the top three in recruiting in one the most talent rich regions of the entire country. No coaching job is easy, but good football at USF is MUCH easier than it is at any other school. Louisville and Cincinnati came to the Big East with USF. Cincinnati has won a share of about five conference titles and appeared in BCS games. Louisville won a basketball national title the same year they won the Sugar Bowl against Florida. Those are USF's peers and the comparison is an embarrassment. That success has REAL value. Louisville is joining the ACC, a conference in the playoff system. USF is in the shameful reorganization of CUSA that USF created and promotes as a big deal, much to the humiliation of real USF fans. UCF will always have one up on USF from now on because they won several conference titles, including the first AAC title and their first BCS game. USF? Golf? Softball? Are you serious? Football and men's basketball are the sports that matter. That's not to take anything away from the student athletes who work hard for the other teams they play on, either. It's a simple matter of fact, though. Even a humiliating ten thousand fan attendance average in football would blow away the fan base of any other USF sport. So, when seriously trying to make a defense of USF, remember that you can add up the interest of all of the other sports, including men's basketball, and you still won't come close to the interest in football. Here's another important thing to note related to one's limited life experience; choices. USF boosters and fans have choices. We don't have to support USF athletics. We can support BCS National Champion FSU or multiple national champion UF. We could even support Miami, if we could accept the immorality of doing so. So, here's the point that you and everyone in that school's administration needs to get very clearly: USF athletics NEEDS us. We don't need USF athletics. If this horrible train wreck of a disaster that IS USF athletics is acceptable to the USF student body and you do not DEMAND change immediately, you deserve what you're going to get and do not expect the non-student fan base to continue to bail you out because we're already making CHANGE happen and it's starting with our wallets. The Capital One Mascot Challenge is a perfect summary of USF's failure. Seeing the athletic director and the school president grinning like proud parents, holding a check for $20,000 in a picture with Rocky says it all. Those folks are more interested in LOOKING good than BEING good. Do you know how far that small sum of money actually goes in the real world? The Iron Bulls I've been talking to spend $25,000 per year on USF donations. That check from Capital One is less money than private donors give to the athletic program. We don't even need to discuss the coordinated effort that USF had to make that happen. Ask around. It's not a well kept secret. The call for change is not hasty. It's past due. Check the actual attendance...




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