Take a gander at the Plaza on the CSU campus. Stop any random
student and ask them where they’re from. The chances of them being
from Colorado are about as good as it snowing in the high country
Now, go wander through the Fum McGraw Athletic Center. Stop any
random athlete and ask them where they’re from. The chances of them
being from Colorado are about as good as your chances of guessing
right on a true-false question.
Finally, stop by Moby Arena some evening and talk to a CSU men’s
basketball player. Ask him where he’s from. The chances he’ll say
“Colorado” are about as good as draining a half-court shot.
Why such a disparity? How can Colorado residents on the CSU
campus go from being just about everywhere to being just about
Recruiting. Name recognition. Money.
“We are a state school, the land-grant school,” said Anna
Arevalos, CSU’s director of undergraduate recruitment. “So
naturally, the majority of students coming to Colorado State are
from the state of Colorado.”
But not the majority of student-athletes.
Whereas 81 percent of undergraduates at CSU are residents of
Colorado, 49 percent of CSU student athletes are.
Is there something wrong with the talent of athletes in
Swimming in the deep end
No, there’s nothing wrong with the athletic talent in Colorado.
One of the most highly-touted high school offensive linemen in the
country this year is from Loveland (Jeff Byers, who will suit up
for the University of Southern California next season). The CSU
football team’s most versatile athlete is from Colorado Springs
(Dexter Wynn). One of the best point guards in the NBA is from
Denver (Chauncey Billups).
It’s just the number of talented athletes in Colorado that’s the
“On average, you’re going to have 75 to 85 Division I (men’s
basketball) players a year in Texas,” said Buzz Williams, the
assistant men’s basketball coach who focuses on recruiting Texas.
“Whereas on average in the state of Colorado, you’re gonna have
three to four.”
That’s why the men’s basketball team is dominated by Texas
players. Seven of the 13 on the roster are from that state. Only
two come from Colorado. (One of the nearby schools those players
passed up – Texas Southern – is in town Thursday to take on CSU at
On the football team, 44 players on the 112-man roster are from
Colorado. That means the other 68 are non-residents. California
alone boasts 37 players on the CSU roster (and those players will
receive a homecoming of sorts when the Rams play in the San
Francisco Bowl on Dec. 31).
Assistant football coach Matt Lubick is the main man recruiting
California for CSU. A big reason why Matt Lubick and two other
coaches regularly hit up the Golden State is due to its large
population. Lubick said he can see more athletes within a one-hour
radius of the hotel he regularly stays at near Los Angeles than he
could in the entire state of Colorado.
But it’s also a place CSU coaches are familiar with.
“There are a lot of great players there,” Lubick said about
California. “And we have a lot coaches that are not only from
California, but have recruited that area for years.”
Of all the states represented in the CSU athletic department,
though, Colorado definitely has the most representation, as 176 of
a total 357 student-athletes are residents. California has the next
best representation with 45 athletes in the department. Texas
Getting your name out there
Really, though, it’s no surprise as to why the men’s basketball
team gets a lot of Texas guys and football gets a lot of California
guys. Those are the two biggest of the 48 contiguous states.
It’s also no surprise when you see that those states are two of
the top three feeder states CSU students come from. This fall, 399
of 3,918 non-residents are from Texas. The state of Illinois is No.
2 with 342 students. California has 323.
Though only 19.8 percent of undergrads at CSU are non-residents,
the university insists it puts an emphasis on out-of-state
“We decided many years ago that we wanted to have a national
focus, so we are recruiting students from across the country,”
Arevalos said. “All states pretty much are represented. We also
look at international students and have a pretty good reputation
there. So as a university, we want to have and give students a
universal experience, with a variety of thoughts, values and
beliefs coming from all over the United States.”
But until CSU gets a national name, it will continue to play
second fiddle in Colorado.
“The major problem that we have (recruiting non-residents) is
name recognition. If people are looking at Colorado, obviously,
what school are they going to think of?” said Arevalos, referring
to the University of Colorado. “And there’s no real reason why,
other than they have that name recognition that’s been built up
over the years.”
In the fall of 2002, CU had 7,959 non-resident undergraduates
(33.9 percent) and 15,495 residents (66.1 percent).
A big reason why CU has more name recognition, Arevalos said, is
because the school’s sports teams are in the national spotlight
more often than CSU’s.
Spending money wisely
No doubt that another reason CSU would like to up its
non-resident numbers is money. Out-of-state tuition is considerably
higher than in-state: $14,217 to $3,745. And according to the
university, the total costs of attending CSU are twice as much for
non-residents ($24,037) as it is residents ($12,865).
So there’s clearly a monetary benefit to CSU yearning for more
non-residents. But is there a financial concern when athletic teams
offer scholarships? By giving a full-ride scholarship to a
resident, teams could save money by not shelling out as much cash
to cover costs for a non-resident.
So if two athletes are neck-and-neck in the recruiting race, one
being from Colorado and the other from California, is the in-state
guy going to get the scholarship to save the program some
“One thing we do is we want to give the in-state guy the benefit
of the doubt,” Matt Lubick said. “So if it’s even between an
in-state player and an out-of-state player, we’ll take the in-state
player for a whole bunch of reasons.”
One of those reasons being the player is less likely to become
homesick. Other reasons include keeping Colorado high schools
interested in the program and trying to win with the most local
“But we’re still in the business to take the best player,”
Lubick said. “If we think a player is better in California compared
to a player in Colorado, than we’ll take that player.”
So far, so good. Even though there’s 68 non-residents on the
football team, 11 on the men’s basketball team, six on the women’s
basketball team and 22 on the women’s swim team (not every one is
on scholarship, though most are), the athletic department has no
“We just tell them to make the best decisions they can for the
team,” said Christine Susemihl, CSU associate athletic director in
charge of compliance. “(Coaches) are all pretty good about watching
that. We don’t require a certain number of players to be in state
“Not to say it couldn’t come to that if it got out of hand,”
It doesn’t appear headed in that direction anytime soon. The
men’s basketball team is the only team on campus that doesn’t have
Colorado as its most represented state (though Colorado is tied
with Texas on the women’s tennis team, as both states have two
And it doesn’t appear the number of non-resident students will
be increasing anytime soon. Overall attendance numbers at CSU have
picked up over the last five years for both residents and
non-residents, but the percentages essentially remain the same. In
fall 1999, residents were 77.1 percent of the CSU campus and
non-residents were 22.9. This fall it’s 78.4 and 21.6 percent.
So if you took a walk through the Plaza five years ago, today or
five years from now, you’ll find a Colorado resident as often as
you’ll find a tree. Not many people know much about Colorado State
outside the Midwest region.
But if anyone is going to bring CSU national recognition, it’ll
be the sports teams, primarily football and men’s basketball.
And oddly enough, a slight majority of those tools for
recruiting non-residents to CSU aren’t even residents