The proposal to eliminate UNLV football is based on economics. One affluent eastern school gives its players two bonding trips a year to places such as Paris and London. UNLV players have bonded in Ely. Bonding can be a great recruiting pitch.
It’s difficult to compete with the big money, a difficulty that can be seen with many programs in Nevada’s university system. For example, the most expensive program in the system is the medical school at Reno. Now, UNLV is attempting to create a medical school and is facing financial hurdles.
Nevada is a sparsely populated state that does well economically — but not well enough to duplicate special and graduate programs in the north and the south. It makes sense to operate community and four-year programs for both ends of the state. But when it comes to big-money programs, the state would do well to see itself as having one university.
Give Reno football, give UNLV basketball. Let Reno have the medical program, let UNLV focus on law. Let Reno have the graduate history program, give UNLV the graduate English program. Other states have engaged in consolidation of their intellectual resources. It works, and it makes sense here.
There is a vain hubris in the attempt to create two great universities with the resources of one.