Does College Football Without Cheerleaders or a Marching Band Sound as Sweet? Let's Find Out

Give Florida International University some credit; for what's essentially a startup D-I program, they haven't been afraid to act like the big boys... off the field. After joining I-A football in 2005, while the Golden Panthers haven't exactly been good at football, they've recently opened up a $50 million on-campus football stadium. Moreover, even before getting their own stadium, they acted the part of a storied old program by picking a fight with their crosstown "rivals," the Miami Hurricanes; it didn't end well.
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↵C'mon, guys... cut that out, would you?
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↵Oh, and they also blew a bunch of money on Isiah Thomas for some reason, but that's basketball. Either way, they're dropping some cheddar on their athletic programs, and why not?
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↵Well, "because they can't afford it" sounds like a really good reason why not, and lo and behold, they can't; as the Miami Herald reports, the recession and its resultant cutbacks have forced the school to cut the pageantry that's ubiquitous in major college athletics: ↵
↵⇥In a year when public universities statewide are slashing academic ↵⇥programs and laying off employees, FIU's cheerleading team is the ↵⇥latest to get the ax. ↵⇥
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↵⇥The decision follows FIU's recent move to eliminate its marching band -- also a fixture at football games. ↵⇥
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↵⇥To ↵⇥fill the musical void, the school is exploring the possibility of ↵⇥bringing in high school bands so that fans can still hear FIU's fight ↵⇥song between passing plays. ↵
↵High school bands? Is this what we've come to? Outsourcing the music to child labor?! ↵
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↵It should be noted that the cuts to the band and cheerleaders are projected to save the athletic program a whopping $45,000 a year, or about 1 1/2 times the amount of projected costs of an out-of-state student. And that's before their upcoming 15% tuition increase. ↵
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↵So, let's say... 83 football scholarships and a marching band, or 85 and no discernable way for fans to be able to tell what level of football they're watching, just that it's bad. Hell of a choice to make. ↵
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↵The worst part of it is that the FIU cheerleaders weren't like the squad at the beginning of The Waterboy before Adam Sandler shows up and goes full steroid (see: apathetic and visibly drunk); they're ranked fourth in the nation and were routinely used as a selling point for the university. ↵
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↵To her credit, FIU cheerleading coach and former Miami Dolphin cheerleader Maria George is still working toward a solution that puts the squad on the field in 2009, including soliciting private donations. FIU is requiring that the donations be committed going forward, an implicit "we're never paying for your squad ever again" statement. It may make sense on paper, but gentlemen, you remove these ladies from the fans' gameday experience at your own peril.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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