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Rice trustees to keep football, Div. 1A status

2004 May 22
by Skip Sauer

The “tough question” was asked, and the trustees’ answer is that they want to play. “We have unanimously concluded that, in today’s world, Division I-A remains the best place for Rice,” said trustee chairman Bill Barnett. Most of the story contains the usual bureaucraspeak. My man Lance Berkman (scroll down for the quote) cuts to the chase on the issue:

“I wasn’t really that concerned about it, to be honest with you,” said Berkman, who led Rice to its first College World Series appearance in 1997. “There’s no reason for Rice to drop football or ever go from Division I.”

Berkman, who attended Rice from 1995-97, wasn’t surprised there was a small faction at Rice who wanted to reduce the role athletics plays at the school.

“I think one thing that nobody’s mentioned so far is that Rice is in Texas, and you’re not going to be in Texas without people being avid sports fans,” he said. “That’s just part of our culture. It’s just unrealistic to expect that we’re going to be some purely academic institution in an Ivy League environment when you have to exist in the environment that you’re a part of.”

Chronicle columnist John Lopez thinks the whole saga may be part of a strategy to rally supporters of the athletic department. Owl alumns, prepare to open ye wallets!

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