Growing athletics without football

Columbia College expands into several other sports to boost campus energy
By: | Issue: March, 2015
February 22, 2015

The athletic department at Columbia College in Missouri will have tripled in size by the 2016-17 school year. But it has no plans to field a football team, says Cindy Potter, the associate director of athletics.

In 2012, the college—which has about 1,100 students attending class on its “day” campus and another 25,000-plus in various evening, extension and online programs throughout the country—added men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s soccer. By 2016, the Columbia Cougars will also compete in men’s and women’s track, and baseball.

“All the sports we have added over the last couple of years have a very strong following in the community and are highly participated in by local students, so giving those opportunities to the local students is huge,” Potter says.

The cross country and soccer teams have already won conference championships. The immediate success of Columbia’s runners inspired the creation of the track teams. Baseball was added because it had long been one of the most requested sports, Potter says. ‘

“Anytime you add students to your campus, it enhances the campus-life aspect. By 2016-17 our student athlete population will be just under a third of the day campus.”

The sports have widened Columbia’s fan base, but have not been a revenue-generator. The college is funding the sports as well as an extensive renovation of its soccer field that includes a new turf field, concessions, a press box and four locker rooms. So why not football?

“Adding football is a huge undertaking,” Potter says, “and one that we currently don’t have the space or room for on our campus.”