I got an e-mail this morning from Mayor Mark Stodola urging people to answer a survey circulated by consultants studying the feasibility of starting a football team at UA-Little Rock.

So here’s the link to the survey.

This still strikes me as a pipe dream. College athletics — football particularly — is an enormous money loser except at a handful of the biggest colleges (the University of Arkansas, powered by high-dollar seat sales and an enormous SEC TV contract, pays its own way.)

Arkansas State University, to use one example, now spends $43 million a year on sports and makes ends meet with $13 million in student fees and university funds.  UA-Little Rock would have to do the same. It’s $11 million program currently draws about $7 million from students and university money.

Football at UA-Little Rock (oh, right, they’d start a band, too) means 2 things: 1) Higher fees for students in a time when college chancellors have been asked by Gov. Asa Hutchinson NOT to raise tuition, even though state support is declining as a percentage of operating costs or 2) a major contribution from a private source.  The Waltons were happy to build a privately operated charter high school on the UA-Little Rock campus (a huge disruption for college students and a sore point with the faculty) but they seem to devote most of their “cultural” spending n Arkansas to Northwest Arkansas and tearing down Little Rock public schools. Football hasn’t been on their agenda previously. Anybody else got $20 million lying around to suit up Trojans for games in War Memorial Stadium?

That’s a specific question not found on the survey. Yes, willingness to support is asked. How much? That’s the big question.

PS: A correspondent notes a recent story about the NCAA which might give you pause about increasing the number of unpaid gladiators at UA-Little Rock.

The NCAA is being sued by athletes who get free college and little more while colleges reap billions from their sweat. From The Intercept:

What the NCAA did in response to the lawsuit is as vile as anything going on in sports right now. I had to see it for myself before I believed it. At the root of its legal argument, the NCAA is relying on one particular case for why NCAA athletes should not be paid. That case is Vanskike v. Peters.

Only there’s an important detail: Daniel Vanskike was a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, and Howard Peters was the Director of the state Department of Corrections. In 1992, Vanskike and his attorneys argued that as a prisoner he should be paid a federal minimum wage for his work. The court, in its decision, cited the 13th Amendment and rejected the claim.

The 13th Amendment is commonly hailed as the law that finally ended slavery in America. But the amendment has an important carve-out: it kept involuntary service legal for those who have been convicted of a crime. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the amendment says. It’s that phrase — “except as a punishment for crime” — which allows American prisons to force their inmates to do whatever work they want or need them to do.

The use of the case stems from several other law cases alleging unpaid labor; two of them are previous lawsuits against the NCAA in which the case was cited as precedent, and the NCAA won

No pay OK as “punishment for a crime.”