DENTON, Texas — Full cost-of-attendance for out-of-state students at the University of North Texas runs about $36,000 a year.
Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine has repaid the school for his scholarship several times over — even if it was the only scholarship offer he got.
“For a long time, I think everybody looked at North Texas from the outside and said, ‘That’s a place that ought to be pretty good: great location, 40,000 students, a rapidly growing area of the country,’” UNT athletic director Wren Baker recently told Sporting News. “And Mason has been a key part in helping turn the program around, which in turn has had a huge influence on the university. Record-setting donations, not only in athletics but at the institution, (and) freshman enrollment is up like 15 percent this year.
“Is he solely responsible for that? No. But has he played a big part in probably the No. 1 marketing tool of the university’s success? Yeah, he’s had a huge impact.”
When Fine was a freshman way back in 2016, the school created a social media hashtag: #NewDenton.
New Denton indeed: Next week, the football program will open its indoor practice facility, which cost $16 million. In January, a brand new track and soccer stadium was christened — part of a master plan called Light the Tower, which will add a new basketball arena, a new softball stadium, a new indoor tennis facility and a new natatorium over the next 20 years. UNT also hopes to add the sport of baseball, and a new baseball stadium, of course.
That’s quite a change from when Fine and coach Seth Littrell arrived for the 2016 season. North Texas came off an 1-11 season in 2015. For the final home game, a 20-17 loss to UTEP — UNT’s leading passer that day went 7 of 15 for 48 yards — only 8,305 fans showed up. Now there’s that many fans tailgating in the Blue Lot three hours before kickoff.
“It was a little different then, no question,” Baker said. “I mean, everything. The demand on parking, the demand on tickets, the concessions — it’s a multiplier.”
To read the rest of John E. Hoover’s report at Sporting News, click here: