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Does Winning Matter Anymore at Lamar?

Fear The Bird

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There have been several comments I've read on this site which have referred to the football and men's basketball programs as the "crown jewels" of the athletic department. And while this is a common theme and thought-process among most athletic programs and fan-bases I have to wonder if it is an antiquated and / or short-sighted way of thinking - UConn has certainly proven that an athletics department can be built by and carried on the shoulders of something other than football or men's basketball. Shouldn't the programs which are winning consistently, in terms of win percentage, championships, or both, be considered the "crown jewels" of the department? And while I certainly agree that sports such as men's cross country or women's golf don't necessarily generate a lot of fan enthusiasm in and of themselves, shouldn't Lamar be highlighting and promoting sports like those as part of an overall effort to improve the university's image? Lamar is an asset to this entire region, and athletics is just one small component of the university's overall benefits. We have a world-class engineering program, one of the highest medical school acceptance rates in the nation, one of the best nursing programs in the state, a nationally-recognized MBA program, on and on and on. But a huge perception within the community is that "Lamar sucks" simply because the football and men's basketball teams have underperformed. So I did some research on the Southland website and have compiled winning percentages and championships won by Lamar teams over the past decade - the results may or may not surprise you. One interesting point - the only team which has performed worse than football or men's basketball is women's volleyball. So here are the results of that research - championships are based solely on regular season championships, except in situations such as golf where the season champion is determined by a tournament; ties in soccer have been eliminated from the totals. Take a look, see what you think, and consider the questions I asked of myself - does winning really matter at LU anymore and should there be a more concerted effort to highlight those teams which are winning consistently even if they aren't considered "premier" sports.


Winning Percentage

1. Women's Basketball - .649

2. Women's Tennis - .521

3. Baseball - .506

4. Men's Tennis - .489

5. Softball - .479

6. Soccer - .455

7. Men's Basketball - .445

8. Football - .413

9. Volleyball - .323


Conference Championships

1. Men's Cross Country - 8 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 - 36% of championships won)

2. Women's Basketball - 4 (2010, 2014, 2018, 2019 - 18% of championships won)

3. Women's Golf - 4 (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 - 18% of championships won)

4. Women's Cross Country - 2 (2013, 2014 - 9% of championships won)

5. Men's Golf - 2 (2009, 2012 - 9% of championships won)

6. Women's Soccer - 1 (2017 - 5% of championships won)

7. Men's Tennis - 1 (2017 - 5% of championships won)

8. Baseball - 0

9. Softball - 0

10. Men's Basketball - 0

11. Women's Volleyball - 0

12. Football - 0

13. Women's Tennis - 0

14. Men's Indoor Track - 0

15. Men's Outdoor Track - 0

16. Women's Indoor Track - 0

17. Women's Outdoor Track - 0


38% (3 out of 8) of the men's athletics teams have won at least one conference championship over the last decade.

44% (4 out of 9) of the women's athletics teams have won at least one conference championship over the last decade.

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Here's another way to look at it - based upon the budget is LU truly getting the "bang for their buck" in terms of wins and losses. From the Lamar University Auxiliary Funds Budgeted Expenditures and Transfers Out for FYE August 2019:




Staff - $306,933

Benefits - $71,400

Travel - $145,000

M&O - $95,200

Financial Aid - $314,758

TOTAL - $933,291



Men's Basketball


Staff - $455,397

Benefits - $90,435

Travel - $256,000

M&O - $99,450

Financial Aid - $346,480

TOTAL - $1,247,762



Men's Golf


Staff - $68,100

Benefits - $16,350

Travel - $87,000

M&O - $40,375

Financial Aid - $120,000

TOTAL - $301,825



Men's Track


Staff - $108,700

Benefits - $32,700

Travel - $68,000

M&O - $28,050

Financial Aid - $247,382

TOTAL - $484,632



Men's Tennis


Staff - $66,000

Benefits - $18,000

Travel - $45,000

M&O - $20,400

Financial Aid - $98,964

TOTAL - $248,364





Staff - $962,803

Benefits - $219,000

Travel - $410,000

M&O - $407,150

Financial Aid - $1,991,004

TOTAL - $3,989,957 (An increase of $1,028,838 from FY 2018)



Women's Basketball


Staff - $305,629 (Compared to $455,397 for the men's program)

Benefits - $57,000

Travel - $162,000 ($10,800 per player compared to $19,629 per player for the men)

M&O - $83,385 ($5,559 per player compared to $7,650 per player for the men)

Financial Aid - $389,523 ($25,968 per player compared to $26,652 per player for the men)

TOTAL - $997,537 (Compared to $1,247,762 for the men)



Women's Golf


Staff - $58,000

Benefits - $14,560

Travel - $45,000

M&O - $25,925

Financial Aid - $135,900

TOTAL - $279,385



Women's Tennis


Staff - $64,978

Benefits - $17,900

Travel - $45,000

M&O - $20,400

Financial Aid - $204,884

TOTAL - $353,162



Women's Track


Staff - $45,080

Benefits - $13,200

Travel - $69,500

M&O - $28,050

Financial Aid - $335,081

TOTAL - $490,911



Women's Volleyball


Staff - $98,127

Benefits - $22,000

Travel - $74,000

M&O - $34,850

Financial Aid - $261,100

TOTAL - $490,077



Women's Soccer


Staff - $120,200

Benefits - $33,300

Travel - $74,000

M&O - $32,300

Financial Aid - $347,000

TOTAL - $606,800



Women's Softball


Staff - $126,320

Benefits - $35,901

Travel - $106,500

M&O - $72,250

Financial Aid - $249,000

TOTAL - $589,971

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Excellent material, well done. I'm still looking forward to dogging you, in a few weeks, but well done. My opinion is all sports should be funded as best as they can be but the best bang for the buck will be Football, MBB, WBB, and Baseball. WSoftball and WSoccer can certainly crack the top 4 but the current attendance situation does not show them there, yet.


Sorry, to be continued, but I have to go to Lowes but once again, well done.

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Lowes is so much better than Home Depot but that is another story.


You can promote the minor sports all you want to but they will still be minor sports, with very little upside with respect to generating revenue or promoting LU's image. The potential money makers and the image builders are still the big venue sports; Football, MBB, and WBB. These are the ones being shown on ESPN and when they are shown on ESPN how many ads promoting LU are also shown?

LU's crown sports may be a little tarnished but they offer the best chance for TV time, which also includes LU promoting time.

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So basically you’re saying “No, winning does not matter and there is no benefit to promoting the sports which are winning championships because it will do nothing to change anything because they’re all ‘minor sports’”? I disagree - I think winners should get the attention, regardless of whether they’re a “minor” sport or a “major” sport.


As far as ESPN is concerned, it is nice to be able to watch the games, and kudos to Lamar for getting that done, but let’s be clear - it’s ESPN3, a streaming service, and it’s typically only the home games which are shown unless the road opponent has a similar media deal with ESPN. I doubt they are reaching a large amount of people who don’t already know about Lamar - my guess / assumption is that Lamar fans, or fans of the opponent, are about the only people watching on ESPN3 so you’re really not reaching out to potential new students / fans.

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And I’m not so naive as to believe that men’s cross country or even women’s basketball will or should ever have a budget the size of football - that’s not a rational thought process. However, I think if a team wins a conference championship, they should get first shot at budget increases for their programs, within reason obviously. So, for example, let’s says there is $1M extra to budget for and women’s basketball won a championship and men’s didn’t (probably a bad comparison but it’s all I’ve got at the moment) - if the women have legitimate needs for their program, they should get the budget increase even if it means the men don’t get one. Again, probably not the greatest analogy but, hopefully, you get what I’m trying to say.
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If we were talking about an LU team that was a lock to have successful seasons every year, with some big time out of conference wins, a team that gets into the conference tournament and lives up to their hype, a team that is a shoo in for the NCAA or the NIT every year, a team that draws better attendance levels, then, I can see additional funding and promoting. I don't see that team anywhere, do you? The only LU team, that looks like it is on an upward trajectory, is football. It's time to ride that horse and see if that upward trajectory continues.
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The promoting and recognition of LU's success in the minor sports and all sports for that matter is to get the Beaumont Enterprise and possibly the Houston paper to cover them better and give them headlines to generate the readers interest. Beyond that yes winning does matter or Woodard would still be the coach of the football program and Knight might still be the basketball coach, neither of whom still are or should be the coach at LU. Beyond that and the story isn't pretty paid attendance is the next bedrock for who gets the funding. The LU administration screwed up big time when it dropped football in the 80's because they thought with the success of men's basketball in the early 80's they should pour money into men's basketball not realizing that with the loss of football would go some of the support dollars coming in and the effect on other activities and programs really wasn't understood. For instance the music program suffered significantly because there was no need for a marching band and that had an effect on enrollment. I agree that LU has outstanding programs in multiple areas outside of sports and the public relations department needs to make sure any positive award associated with LU gets published in the paper and the local tv news slots and try to get them in the regional press also. LU should dedicate some money to buy ads that show the positive side of LU. LU needs to prove that last years successes in football, ladies and men's basketball weren't flukes. Like most, I dream of undefeated regular seasons in each of these sports on a regular basis, but from where LU has been over the last decade I'll take a few years straight of similar records to last year to begin to build the "in the seat" fan base. Ask yourself this question and it doesn't matter if you ask it about any high school sport, college or professional, "Do fans fill the stadium for consistent loosing record teams?" The next question is how do you break the loosing record history. My thought is it takes getting and keeping the right coach. That probably comes down to money.
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What I am having trouble reconciling in my mind is how there could be such large differences in budgetary items which, in my opinion, should be equal, or close to it. Why is there such a large difference in travel, for example, between men’s basketball ($19k per player) and women’s basketball ($10k per player)? It seems to me that it costs the same amount of money to move a team from one location to another, regardless of gender, yet the women are forced to do it at almost half the budget as the men. M&O, whatever that is, has a $2k per player difference in the budgets of the two programs. The men’s basketball budget is a quarter of a million dollars more than the women’s despite the fact that the women have been substantially more successful. I just think there should be a more equitable distribution of resources to the teams which are consistently winning games and titles. How that formula is established is above my pay grade but it seems to me that something like travel should have a similar per player cost between two teams of the same sport. Maybe I’m missing something. One other side note - it was mentioned in the comments that one of the indicators of true success is premier non-conference wins. Well, WBB beat #17 aTm in College Station, softball beat several big-name schools this year (Penn State is one which comes to mind) and baseball has also had wins over several marquee schools in the past (Rice, LSU, etc.). Football and MBB cannot make the same claim. However, in fairness to the football program, we’re never going to beat an aTm - that is nothing but a money game for the program. But why not schedule an SMU, Houston, or similar larger in-state school which allows you a slightly better chance to get a big-time non-conference win?
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Why is there such a difference in travel costs between MBB and WBB? Look at the schedule difference. MBB went to Atlanta and Greenville South Carolina for two days, EDINBURG, Dallas, Houston, Houston,Bakersfield Cali, Houston, Conway Ark, Hammond La, Huntsville Tx, Thibodaux La, Lake charles, Nacogdoches, San Antonio, Corpus Christi,and Katy Tx. The WBB out of town games were, Lafayette La, Starkville Miss, Denver Col for two days, College Station, Manhattan Ks, New Orleans, San Antonio, Huntsville, Lake Charles, Abilene, Nacogdoches, Nactitoches, Corpus Christi, Houston, and Katy. The men had 16 out of towns vs 15 for the women. If you really dug into the numbers, I think that you will find that there is a logical explanation. Me, I'm going to take a nap.
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I'm making an assuption, three factors that probably enter into the travel expense budget that I can think of. One as Dracula stated is number of trips and where did they go. Two growth in budget may be based on a percentage basis rather than a flat figure. Third number of non-players traveling with the team.
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Athletic budget does not equal success! UT-Austin has the highest athletic budget of any NCAA school and is approximately 3 times larger than the 2nd highest school. They don’t dominate in WBB or MBB. Their baseball dominance in their conference has deteriorated, so besides football, I think heads may begin to roll in Austin.

I guess another question is why have an athletic department at Lamar?

The SEC and the Big 12 Conferences have both funded studies to determine why student attendance at MBB and Football games is declining.

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I think heads may begin to roll in Austin. If, the marquee sports, of the LU Athletic Department, don't show some kind of improvement, for the 2019 season, then I think heads will roll at Lamar. Marco Born's job resume is on the line and he ain't lookin' to retire, from Lamar. But, hungary, ambitious, and willing to leave bodies lying in the road is what you look for in an AD. Born knows that, if he can't show improvement, in the Athletic Department, his body may be lying in the road, as well. Edited by Dracula
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