TCU needs to follow SMU’s lead on beer sales

06/28/2014 4:29 PM

11/12/2014 6:26 PM

The following has not happened frequently over the past decade, but in terms of reality, SMU is ahead of TCU. The suits at SMU are no longer lying to themselves, which is why the Ponies will be selling beer at home football games in 2014.

TCU has not been able to wrap its head around this growing trend in college athletics, which previously was considered a no-no.

“We sell beer and wine in our premium areas — which are inside — and this year we will have it in our premium areas outside,” TCU director of athletics Chris Del Conte told me this week. “Beyond that, it’s not something we have had a desire to do. At this point, we don’t have an appetite for it.”

“At this point” will eventually change, so just go ahead and do it now.

At a place such as TCU, which has an affiliation with the Disciples of Christ Church, the reasons not to openly sell beer are obvious — the church wants nothing to do with the perception of underage drinking.

Back in 1996, it was this school that sent out a university-wide memo that from this day forward all university-related material would read “TCU.” When ESPN or CNN would list a score on one of the crawls that read “Texas Christian University,” it was not uncommon for an employee to be asked to call one of those outlets to “correct them” and have it changed it to TCU.

If the church has any pretense that an affiliated university is not profiting off college kids who play sports to the delight of the masses, it is a fallacy.

Maybe in 1998, or even 2008, we could fool ourselves into believing we were watching a glorified Little League game. Now, we are all too aware — because of the prices involved to attend both football and men’s basketball games — that these Little League games are a step down from the pros in name only, and in the ability of the players themselves.

Most every other aspect feels like a professional event.

The NCAA has no universal alcohol sales policy, leaving the decision in the hands of individual schools. That’s why this process is slow — schools are watching others try before joining.

As much as I loathe that college sports has evolved into a billion-dollar business, losing its innocence along the way, for TCU to deny itself a six-figure revenue source seems only slightly hypocritical, and unnecessary.

Everything else is for sale, so why not a Shiner? It may even help in keeping fans in their seats in the stadium rather than the parking lot.

TCU fans were enraged at the new parking schemes, price structures and seat reassignments after renovations were made at Amon G. Carter Stadium. They were so mad they bought season tickets, paid for parking and attended games. People get mad, and then get over it.

SMU began its process back in January with beer sales at home men’s basketball games. Reportedly, the school netted six figures from the “trial run.”

West Virginia started selling beer at home football games in 2011, and, according to USA Today has since reported it has seen fewer incidents of bad behavior and binge drinking in the parking lots. Whether those self reports were honest is another matter.

Minnesota is doing it, as are Louisville, UTEP, Houston, etc. One of the first moves new athletic director Steve Patterson made when he was hired at Texas was to allow beer and wine sales at selected events, including men’s and women’s basketball. Football is coming, too.

These moves have been sold as “test periods” or “trial runs,” but since when are such decisions ever reversed?

As the costs of operating an athletic department rise, especially if any additional athlete-student expenses are allowed by the NCAA, administrators such as Del Conte need more cash to plug in the holes.

There is no pleasant way to do this other than to just do it, and deal with the risks involved in terms of public perception and the chance of something going wrong.

SMU issues a wristband that allows three beers to be purchased per patron for a singular event. There are other preventive measures, which some people inevitably will successfully outmaneuver.

Administrators such as Del Conte are already fully aware that patrons smuggle booze into games; that one of the primary reasons it is so hard to entice ticket holders to remain in their seats as opposed to the parking lots and the tailgates is the open consumption of alcohol.

Administrators such as Del Conte are already fully aware they are losing fans to the comfort and ease of living rooms, and HDTV.

Administrators such as Del Conte need reasons for fans to attend, and watch the games.

These are the realities, which SMU has accepted and signed off on with the sale of beer at its home games.

TCU has no appetite for open beer sales now, but it will.

Line of the Week

4Players from Texas selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft — Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Cory Jefferson.

Only one attended a university in Texas — Jefferson at Baylor.

Baylor would have had two draft picks had Isaiah Austin not been forced to retire because he was recently diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. Austin was selected by the NBA, and has been told he will have a job with the league, and Baylor coach Scott Drew has offered him a job as well on his staff.

It would be really nice if more of these players stayed in state.

Prediction

The 2014-15 NBA rookie of the year will be Julius Randle.

Provided his injured foot has healed, he should get plenty of minutes and shots with the Lakers, even with Kobe Bryant’s ball-hogging.

Randle might not be the best player to come from the NBA Draft, but he has the most NBA-ready game. He can hit face-up jumpers, and has a back-to-the-basket moves. He should be a 12-point, 7.5-rebound guy as a rookie.

Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports/.

About Mac Engel

Mac Engel

@macengelprof

Since 1998 Mac Engel has covered the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars, the Dallas Cowboys, colleges, high schools, the Olympics, women's basketball, even amateur women's judo. He has wasted more brain space on local sports than a human should. And he's a big fan of talking about it.

Email Mac at tengel@star-telegram.com | Read The Big Mac Blog

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