Soccer Sports

Student sees men’s soccer as UH’s next great endeavor


Hugo Lagarda is advocating for a UH men’s soccer team. | Pablo Milanese/The Cougar

Soccer is widely known as the world’s game and is a blossoming sport in the United States, and sports administration junior Hugo Lagarda is trying to bring that excitement to campus.

Lagarda has put forth a petition for UH to establish its own men’s soccer program, spoke to the Student Government Associate and has an up-coming presentation with the Athletics Advisory Board to present his petition.

The Cougar had a chance to sit down with Lagarda to talk about the root of his desire for a men’s program, his plans moving forward and the potential effect on the University.

The Cougar: What is your goal for the petition to UH?

Hugo Lagarda: My primary goal is to use the signatures to showcase the amount of support a Division I men’s soccer team would receive throughout the city of Houston. It’s another case for establishing a men’s program here at UH.

TC: What is the process and timeline from now until the theoretical establishment of a program?

HL: It’s a process of getting people to understand the potential that a men’s soccer program here at UH possesses. I’ve presented to the SGA, and it was received with great acclaim. On Oct. 14, I will be presenting to the Athletics Advisory Board. I eventually plan to present to our President and the Board of Regents. The overall timeline of establishing a program is hard to forecast. I personally would be content with the program being established within three years. It’s hard to predict all of the hurdles. Nonetheless, I’m very passionate about the endeavor and prepared with the right information.

TC: What made you want to push for the University to have a men’s soccer program?

HL: There are thousands of kids playing soccer here in the state of Texas that don’t have many options to play college at the highest level. Currently, Southern Methodist University, Houston Baptist University and the University of Texas-Pan American are the only schools to field a men’s Division I team. There are zero major public universities that have men’s soccer. It’s baffling and sad. There is too much talent that either leaves the state or drops the sport to attend a public university.

TC: What is your goal for this University with men’s soccer?

HL:  The ultimate goal is for the potential of a program to come to fruition. I want UH to be among the elite in NCAA men’s soccer. I want UH to be recognized as a trailblazer for the other large public universities to add men’s soccer programs.

TC: What benefits would a men’s program offer UH?

HL: For starters, it would cater to the student population here at UH. We are the second-most diverse university in the nation. Soccer is a global sport. Our University would have strong leverage on some of the best soccer players in the nation. Men’s soccer would also allow us to reach out and expand on a market that is not saturated by the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and others..

TC: Do you think soccer has a chance to be a ‘Top-4’ collegiate sport?

HL:  College soccer is growing steadily and significantly. According to Winthrop Intelligence, a database resource for athletic directors to increase revenue and save money, athletic directors are devoting more and more resources towards the development of their soccer programs. Soccer is the only sport outside of football and basketball that shows promise at becoming self-sustaining. In fact, only 43 percent of all college football programs break even.

TC: What kind of numbers have you found that backup your claim about soccer being the next big thing?

HL: When you consider the global landscape of sports, soccer is already the biggest thing there is. It’s one of the only sports that was imported to the United States. You can have a kid in a third world country play the same sport as a kid in a first world country. College soccer will grow subsequent with the professional game and the interest at the grass root levels of the sport. Here are two facts: there are more kids playing soccer than any other sport in the country. The U.S. has more youth soccer players than any other World Cup contender.

TC: What is the biggest obstacle facing you going forward?

HL: The biggest obstacle is convincing the business-savvy individuals of the athletic department that men’s soccer is worth the investment.

TC: What is your pitch for why we need a program?

HL: My pitch is simple. College soccer will not stop growing. The Texas universities are falling behind on this opportunity. We can either be a leader or a follower.

TC: Do you think soccer at UH is something that has a chance to transcend just athletics?

HL: I say this with all due respect to the other athletic programs here at UH: If a men’s soccer program were established, we would be a national championship contender within five years. Our attendance would rival the highest national average. Houston has one of the best youth soccer communities in the country. The community fosters vast amounts of soccer talent every year. The most important aspect to consider is that there is no competition with what our University has to offer.

TC: If you had a chance to talk directly to President Renu Khator and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Hunter Yurachek, what is one thing you would tell them to change their mind?

HL: We always talk about gaining ground on the other universities in Texas. Men’s soccer offers an opportunity to be a leader.

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  • A few years ago we were not in compliance with Title IX and that’s why they added a women’s golf team. While this is a great thing to bring to our school, the University is going to be more worried about staying in compliance first before they add another men’s team.

  • If he aspires it to be a Division I team, then I’m assuming he intends for UH to issue scholarships to the players. Well, then Title IX requires that an equivalent number of female athletic scholarships also be added. So it’s not a matter of adding a men’s soccer team. It’s a matter of adding two or three teams total to balance out the numbers. And that’s never going to happen. Not for non-revenue sports.

  • Title IX doesn’t necessarily dictate that two teams of the same sport must exist in order to meet fed requirements. It is possible to have a men’s soccer team as long as the university provides equal funding/opportunities for the establishment of a female sport. That’s why you will see some colleges receive funding for men’s hockey team (and no women’s team) and women’s volleyball (and no men’s team).

  • Kudos for this young man trying to get a Mens soccer program at UH.

    G5 programs: The AAC has 8 teams, CUSA 9 teams, Mac 6 teams, Sun Belt 6 teams, and two teams from MWC(AF & UNLV) play in wac……P5 programs: ACC 12 teams, Big 10 has 9 teams, Pac12 has 6 teams while no surprise SEC and Big 12 have 0…

    Hugo, follow your instincts and passion, although a difficult task because of the ROI, Mens soccer at UH fits the culture being one of the most diversified campuses in the country….Soccer wont replace football but has a place in college sports. Get the media and international alumni/financial backers to buy in and this could become a reality…Good Luck and am sure one day we will see Mens soccer at UH…….

  • Keep at it Hugo! Soccer is a relatively cheap sport for a university to support (low-cost equipment: uniforms, balls and soccer goals) compared to football, basketball and baseball. Plus, it would attract the talents of so many soccer-rich high schools in Houston and would offer a natural recruiting relationship with the Houston Dynamo. Win-win-win. GO COOGS!!!

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