The East Carolina football team finished last season with a 3-6 record. The program has not been able to put together a winning season since 2014. So why does a program with little success have so much funding?
Based on the venue where it plays its home games, ECU’s football team has the highest funded sports program in the university. This is common around universities all over the nation. In fact, schools that don’t have a Division I football program are not looked on as fondly. This includes donors, national broadcasters and prospective students.
In most sports, the team's home venue is a good reflection of the program. Dowdy-Ficklen was first opened in 1963 with a capacity of 10,000. Since then, renovations have expanded the capacity to over 50,000 making ECU’s home field the fourth biggest in the American Athletic Conference.
The most recent renovation was the TowneBank Tower. When it opened in 2019, there were dozens of suites and boxes, club level seating, and areas for press and broadcasters. The tower was a $60 million project announced back in 2016.
So much money has gone into making the team's football program look good everywhere except on the field. ECU has gone years without selling out its stadium, but adding an expansion to it hardly benefits the students or improves season results.
It was merely to impress donors and sponsors and offer a quick way to make ECU stand out more in the college football scene.
On the other side of the parking lot, the baseball team finished at the top of the conference. The baseball team is undoubtedly the most successful ECU team in the competitive realm of college sports.
The baseball team also gets cared for, just not as much as the football team. Their venue, Clark-LeClair stadium, first opened in 2005. There has been about $4 million worth of renovations towards the stadium since it’s initial construction.
In the time frame alone, Dowdy-Ficklen had about $80 million worth of renovations done. This is one small statistic but it paints a large picture of how much the university cares about its football team.
In terms of team performance in the past, the football team hasn't been able to put together a winning season in over five years. In that same time frame, the baseball team finished outside the top five of its division only once.
At this time, the baseball team is vastly outperforming the football team. It would be best that ECU puts more resources into the baseball team instead of giving a losing football team state-of-the art facilities which clearly are not paying out.
Back in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, money was very low everywhere, especially at ECU. In order to save some money, the swimming and diving team program was cut from the university. This was just three months after the men's team had won the AAC championship.
As a Division I university, it is important to have a football team to bring more attention to the school. Not only is football the biggest sport in America but having a good football team can put a university in a prestigious spot on the college map. Having a serious football program can be a serious attractor for prospective students and donors.