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Could Atlanta United FC spur UGA, Georgia Tech to start men's soccer programs?

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MLS's entry into Atlanta gives the region's two major colleges a chance to field a men's varsity team.

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One of the things I'm interested in seeing is how the Atlanta area - and beyond - will embrace Atlanta United FC when they begin play next year. If early returns are true, it seems that they should do very well when it comes to attendance, if for no reason other than the novelty factor of both the franchise and the new stadium that will hopefully be completed by next summer. Overall, it should increase interest in the sport even more, especially among younger fans.

The question is, then, could AUFC, especially if they turn out to be successful on the pitch, lead UGA and Georgia Tech to start their own men's soccer programs? Georgia, for its part, has had a women's soccer program since 1994. Granted, the Dawgs did struggle in 2015 after an NCAA appearance in 2014, but did defeat #4 Texas A&M in Athens. Aside from Georgia, the only other option for Division 1 men's and women's soccer in the immediate area lies at Georgia State (who, for that matter, play in Decatur).

The main thing to consider is finances. The issue that's been raised is that college soccer, being a non-revenue sport, wouldn't contribute much of a cash flow - if any - to their respective universities. That's especially an issue for Georgia Tech, who, according to USA Today, had an athletics budget that in 2014 brought in nearly $400,000 less than it spent, but held a $7.1 million government subsidy. Tack on the fact that the university is already paying all scholarship athletes the full cost of attendance - to the tune of half a million dollars a year - and the question of whether it's even economically feasible to bump that up another $40,000-$50,000, on top of hiring a coaching staff, purchasing equipment, overall travel costs, etc., comes into play. Things are a little better financially over at Georgia. The university's athletics department brought in over $103.4 million - with expenses at $92.5 million - including a $3.2 million government subsidy. Their cost of attendance currently sits at $3,221 for students from the state and $3,743 for those hailing outside of Georgia, obviously less of an issue because they have more money to play with. They also have the benefit of having a women's program, but, again, they would likely be hesitant since it's a non-revenue sport and wouldn't be bringing in much money (if any). (Speaking of hiring a coach and staff for a new program, Bulldogs women's coach Billy Lesesne makes just north of $77,000 a year; a men's coach would likely command as much, if not more. That's nearly a quarter of a million right there for a three-year contract, excluding assistants. Certainly doable if they want to put the money in.)

Title IX is the other big thing to consider if Tech and UGA were to start a men's soccer program. In short, both schools would need to add women's athletic programs in order to maintain compliance. Over at Tech, any addition of a men's program would likely see a women's program added as well (golf, which is already a men's sport there, might be a good candidate, as well as - perhaps - sand volleyball). Georgia would be faced with adding multiple sports as well, but right now, they're a little tapped out on the women's side.

In short, the answer isn't as cut and dry as you would think. Most likely is the fact that both schools stay put where they are right now. However, once things get really off and running with AUFC in several years, I wouldn't be surprised if this conversation kicked up in earnest.