Southern Methodist University will serve alcohol at its football games this upcoming season, the Associated Press reports, after testing the new move out in select basketball games last year.
Athletic department spokesman Brad Sutton told the AP Wednesday that there was a plan to sell beer at Gerald R. Ford Stadium in the fall. Beer sales were tested at SMU's basketball stadium, Moody Coliseum, with SMU students age 21 and over being allowed to buy three beers per game.
A wristband with stubs was used to track each student's purchases. The decision is pretty rare for an academic institution. The legal age to drink alcohol in the United States is 21, meaning that the majority of students are not supposed to be able to buy or drink alcohol.
Most colleges have avoided offering alcohol in their events, at the very least giving lip service to the idea that amateurism and academic excellence were more important than the potential profits from alcohol sales.
But professional franchises have made a huge profit from selling alcohol at games, often at highly marked-up prices. And as college sports are acknowledged more and more as a money-making endeavour, rather than extensions of school pride, it seems natural to break down the beer barrier.
College students were sneaking alcohol into the games regardless, or getting themselves wasted in pre-game festivities.
This practice is so rampant that most universities don't even try to police the tailgating which occurs within the shadow of their stadiums.
The NCAA has no rule against serving alcohol in sporting events. It does require that no alcohol is sold during its championships, which are hosted by specific schools, but there are no other stipulations.
For the schools that have chosen to sell beer, the return has been surprisingly mixed in some cases. The University of Minnesota introduced beer to its football games in 2012 after years of banning it. Somehow, the school actually managed to lose money in that first season back, taking in $900,000 in revenue but being down $16,000 after adjusting for the increased security and equipment it had to pay for.
However, West Virginia generated an additional $700,000 in revenue when it began selling beer at its football concession stands in 2011. It had the additional benefitting of reportedly decreasing local alcohol-related arrests on game days.
The SMU football program dominated during the early 1980s, becoming one of the best teams in the nation, but was brought to its knees by the NCAA due to a wide range of sanctions which became known as the "death penalty." The school had a season cancelled and lost 55 scholarships over four years after a number of frequent, flagrant recruiting violations were made public.
SMU joined the newly-formed American Athletic Conference in 2013. It went 5-7 in its first season there.
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