Prior to the 2016-17 academic year, Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, replaced three standard-sized athletic fields with multiple synthetic turf fields, and has been busy keeping unauthorized users off the fields ever since, according to a report in The Wichitan student newspaper.
At a cost of $3.8 million (or roughly $600 per enrolled student), the field renovation led the university of establish a rule prohibiting any usage of the fields outside of currently enrolled students. Any unauthorized personnel must seek permission and approval before using the fields. Reservations can be made through the Redwine Student Wellness Center by phone or email for a flat fee of $150 per day.
According to The Wichitan, no single department claims sole responsibility for the regulation of the fields or creation of the rule itself. However, the athletic department, police department and wellness center share the duty of regulation. Police chief Patrick Coggins told the paper that his team removes unauthorized users from the athletic fields roughly two to three times per week.
"There are several reasons why MSU enforces this policy," Coggins said. "Wear and tear is certainly a consideration, being that the fields are turf. The more people that use them, the more they’re worn and torn. Also, you can only have so many people on the fields at one time. For fields to be used by non MSU students, if MSU students want to use the same space, that is an issue there. I’m sure there’s an economic factor that plays a role in that decision as well."
In addition, Coggins said having unenrolled users presents the university with liability issues that cannot easily be controlled. "When fields are used by whomever and there is no control over that, it poses a liability to the university to have people here without having gone through the proper authorization to use the fields," he said.
"We want to make sure our fields are taken care of, so if we have general public coming out and using them and they’re not paying for our facilities, we still on the back end have to take care of the fields," Redwine Center director Angie Reay told The Wichitan. "It's a large cost to run those fields and take care of the turf."
Mason Wilson, a 2017 MSU business graduate, was removed from the athletic fields while playing a casual game of Ultimate in March. "We were not harassing the fields," Wilson said. "We kept the fields clean and tidy and we were not being rough on the turf. It’s unfair because we weren’t doing anything wrong."
Moreover, Wilson predicts long-term impact for the university's turf-use policies. "If alumni can't use the same fields that we used when we were students, there is less of a reason to stay in the town," he said. "If there is no support, there is no benefit to calling yourself an MSU alumni."
Do you allow alumni to use your outdoor facilities without reserving them first?Check out Midwestern State's policy in this story and let us know. https://t.co/9fMMvevLR9— Athletic Business (@AthleticBiz) April 18, 2019