There are 5,000 student seats reserved for this evening’s football game, but students also paid for about 1,000 seats in classes during the same time.The 5 p.m. kickoff tonight against Brigham Young University has created a dilemma for many students – will they choose to attend their classes or the game?
Provost Nowell Donovan said students must make that choice for themselves. Donovan also addressed faculty members’ attendance in an e-mail Monday morning.
His message: No classes are to be canceled because of the football game.
While the early kickoff has created problems, he said, the university has an obligation to teach the classes students are paying for.
“If there are kids that prefer class, that is their right,” Donovan said. “You might say that the majority of the students want to go to the game. To me, the natural time to have these games is Saturdays. But, of course, what we’ve done is sold out to the television companies.”
Athletics director Danny Morrison said 11 of TCU’s 12 games are televised this season.
The Mountain West Conference owns the television rights for all of its member schools’ games and the revenue generated from television appearances is split equally among the schools, Morrison said.
The date for tonight’s game was set by the conference, he said. Playing on a Thursday normally implies a television appearance that translates to increased exposure for the university, Morrison said.
Bob Akin, a member of the Faculty Senate’s Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, said playing on national television can help the university’s academic programs.
“The more we’re on TV, the more we’re exposed, the better our programs are,” Akin said. “I’d rather that TCU be on TV instead of another school.”
Morrison said the game will reach 70 million homes on Versus TV. He said the school had to choose between a 5 p.m. and an 8 p.m. kickoff time.
Playing at 5 p.m., Morrison said, better accommodates families with young children and gives the Frogs the advantage of playing in the Texas heat – something most opponents aren’t used to.
Gaining that advantage, though, causes an unavoidable conflict with classes, Morrison said.
“The class situation is one, in the ideal world, you’d like to avoid,” he said. “But, on a Thursday night game, there’s going to be class impact.”
Whether the schedule change will result in reduced attendance for classes or at Amon Carter Stadium is unknown.
Scott Kull, associate director of athletics external operations, said there aren’t any similar cases in recent history to compare this situation to. He said he hopes the early start won’t have an effect on game attendance.
“Students play a very important part in our game atmosphere,” Kull said. “We hope those that don’t have class or a conflict at that time can be here.”
Freshman business major Juan Gutierrez doesn’t have a Thursday night class, but if he did, he said he’d consider skipping.
“It depends on the class,” Gutierrez said. “If it’s important. I’d go, and if not, I’d go to the game.”
Just like game attendance, Donovan said, it’s hard to estimate what class attendance will be like. He said he hopes students will choose academics over tonight’s game, though.
Akin said he agrees.
“You are an emancipated adult,” he said. “You can do what you want, when you want. We’re not going to hold a gun to your head and tell you go to class.”
The students who choose to stay in class this evening won’t be alone. Donovan’s 5 p.m. graduate class is scheduled to go on as planned, as are all other classes.
Some faculty members, such as physics professor Paul Lawrence, chose to make special provisions to allow students to attend tonight’s game.
Lawrence, a season ticket-holder, had a test scheduled for his General Physics class tonight, but will let students choose to take the test an hour early.
“It’s a part of college life,” he said. “I certainly enjoyed it when I was in college. I just want to give them that opportunity.”
Coach Gary Patterson said he hopes fans such as Lawrence who can’t make kickoff will still make it in time to sing the alma mater.
“I don’t care if you show up in the fourth quarter,” he said. “Just get there. It’s going to be a great game to watch just in the fourth quarter.