TCU graduates (on average) 2,200 students a year. Texas graduates nearly 12,000 a year, Texas Tech 10,000, Oklahoma 8,000, and Baylor comes in at 4,500 students a year.
To any normal person, these numbers just communicate the size of the school and how many students are going out into the world to start their professional careers. But to an avid sports fan who truly despises these other schools, it means something different.
To me, this means that Texas is sending out 12,000 new fans to the real world, spreading the nasty burnt orange into the places to influence other people to cheer for the Longhorns – I may have thrown up writing that sentence. And in case you aren’t already aware by now, THIS IS A PROBLEM.
Now, we all know that TCU is a small college. It’s honestly why a lot of students choose to come here, because we have a big, beautiful campus that provides the heavily-sought-after college feeling while also giving you that sense of belonging and not just being a number.
This aspect is nice for the general student and it is definitely used in admissions’ marketing tools for prospective students. But it doesn’t help our sports teams, which quite honestly, are probably the reason we are known, recognized, and respected on a national stage.
Amon G. Carter Stadium, our football stadium, only seats about 45,000, although that number will increase after the scheduled renovations. Texas Tech can seat 60,000, Oklahoma can seat 86,000, and Texas’ stadium holds 102,000. These numbers just keep going against TCU’s favor.
Adding to all of that, TCU had a -1,088 fan attendance difference in 2017 from 2016, even when we were ranked as high as #4 in the country in the heart of the season. This is yet another problem TCU sports face.
The TCU Men’s Tennis team won the Big 12 championship this season, and are currently #7 in the country, with 3 players ranked in the top 107 for singles play (19, 55, 59, 107). At their match determining whether they would get a share of the Big 12 or not, there were not nearly enough fans for the occasion. Because I work in Athletics Marketing at TCU, I knew what was happening and what was on the line. Anytime a team has a chance to capture a Big 12 title, it should be broadcasted in order to get as many people there as possible. But to the average TCU student or fan, they had no idea it was happening. And there are many reasons for that, and they explain a lot of the problems that TCU sports and its fans face.
We already established that TCU is small and it doesn’t send out very many fans into the world. But it isn’t just the number of people that contribute to this issue, money plays a big part in it as well.
As anyone knows, money goes a long way in collegiate sports, mainly because of the funding it takes to provide student-athletes the best opportunity possible. And this is an issue that TCU sports teams face.
I know first-hand the funding the marketing department has for each team. You can probably guess which teams get the most money (hint: it’s football, men’s basketball, and baseball). The other sports’ funds are dependent upon how popular they are or how much money they can bring in, as well as other factors.
Because of this, when a big game is happening that could completely shift the Big 12 standings or possibly even clinch the Big 12, like with Men’s Tennis last week, there isn’t enough money left to advertise and promote the game.
This means that a team could lose out on having a ton of fans at the game to cheer for them (and against the other team) in order to give them that little boost they may need to get the win.
It’s a sad thing when thinking about it because our athletes are competing against schools that have a ton of funding from their alumni to do what I just mentioned and it quickly becomes a disadvantage for us.
This all comes back to the size of the graduation class. When Texas or Texas Tech send out 10,000-12,000 students a year to make money and give it back to their respective schools to fund the athletics, they’re giving them a leg up on the other schools.
This is something TCU has gone up against since its inaugural season in the Big 12 and although I’d love to see it become less of a problem in the near future, I don’t think it’s one that can be fixed with a simple solution, especially when TCU prides itself on the small-school feel with the goal of big-school athletics.
We have quickly escalated into the national sports scene, but when do all of these middle-of-the-pack Big 12 finishes transform our mediocrity into national championships? For all of our sakes, let’s hope sooner rather than later.