Texas Tech policy against playing during finals must change


There is only one team in the Big 12 that is yet to have a week off this season. And before Texas Tech fans begin to rant and rave against the evil conference schedule-makers, they should turn their vitriol against the Texas Tech administration.

Texas Tech University has a policy in place preventing its athletic teams from competing during the week of semester finals. This means that Kliff Kingsbury’s football team had to tell the Big 12 that it would not be willing to play on the regular season’s final day, December 3rd.

More importantly, this policy has forced the football team to play 11 consecutive weeks with no break.

The Big 12 grants each football team two off weeks during the conference schedule. The problem facing Texas Tech is that every team is guaranteed to have a bye week prior to playing a Thursday night game.

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For the Red Raiders, their Thursday night game this year falls on Thanksgiving meaning that they must have the week prior to the game as a bye week. But since the university refuses to allow its athletes play during finals, the other off week Texas Tech receives is the final week of the season, December 3rd.

What good does that do? If the worst-case scenario happens and Texas Tech misses out on a bowl game again this year, the second off week is absolutely worthless.

Now, to be fair, Texas Tech is not the only team whose second off week falls on December 3rd. Only Texas, Baylor, West Virginia and Kansas State play on the season’s final weekend but every team other than Texas Tech has already had at least one week off (the four teams playing on December 3rd will have had two bye weeks prior to the season’s 14th week.).

Bye weeks are so much more valuable in football due to the game’s physical nature and to force your football team to play almost its entire season without an off week is idiotic. This not only hurts the team but the entire athletic department and university.

The policy of not playing during finals week has put the football team at a competitive disadvantage. While some teams have had up to two weeks to allow injured players to heal, every team but Texas Tech has had a week to recover mentally and physically from the rigors of the college football season.

When asked about this issue at his weekly press conference, head coach Kliff Kingsbury seemed to indicate that he’d like to open up discussions about a policy change.

"“Yeah, I think that’s something we could talk about after the season.” he said. “There’s always ways to get better when it comes to scheduling.” Link"

Texas Tech is relying on a large number of freshmen this year and a week off to rest mentally and physically could have been a huge benefit to them. Also, consider how important an off week could have been following weeks when important players like Le’Raven Clark, Baylen Brown, Ian Sader or Pat Mahomes have been injured.

But as to my claim that this is hurting the University as a whole, there is no more important revenue-generating activity on campus than football. While the funding Texas Tech receives from the state legislature and other political sources beyond my comprehension are greater than the revenue football produces, no one can argue the importance of football’s income.

With Texas Tech trying to pay off over $111 million in debt, the athletic department must have a profitable and healthy football team. It is estimated that the football team will generate over $17 million of revenue next year with the vast majority of that money coming from ticket sales. Link

Notice how season ticket sales dipped greatly this season following last year when Texas Tech missed a bowl game. But in 2014, Texas Tech sold out every season ticket available following the 2013 season when the team won the Holiday Bowl.

A struggling football team means more private donations, more tickets sold and more merchandise going out the door, which increases leverage in licensing negotiations.  And what is more important is that the money the football program generates helps to fund virtually every other athletic team at Texas Tech.

Collegiate athletes put 20 hours per week towards their sport. That is a significant time taken away from academic pursuits.

However, as a person who held a part-time job during my entire collegiate career, I know that it is possible to work 20 hours or more per week and still pass classes. Plus, Texas Tech athletes have academic resources like tutors and the Marsha Sharp Academic Center for student athletes that the non-athlete students do not.

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Unfortunately for the Texas Tech athletic department, this issue is out of their control.

"Senior Associate Athletics Director of External Operations, Robert Giovannetti said in an exclusive email to Wreck ‘em Red, “It is important to note – it is a university operating policy not a TTU athletics’ policy.   The portion of the policy that is specific to his question is OP 34.10 – g.I am not aware if there is any talk of altering the policy.   Since it it’s a university OP, any questions about changing it should be directed to the Office of the Provost (or the President’s Office).”"

If Texas Tech’s administration is not willing to change this inane policy, 2015 will not be the only season that Texas Tech’s football program must play 11 consecutive games. It seems that the President or Prevost’s office is content to let a short-sighted policy remain in place causing the University’s most lucrative athletic entity to face a competitive disadvantage.

For Texas Tech football to be successful on a consistent basis, this policy must be abolished.