Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

The NFL’s Washington Commanders are in a rebuilding phase, to put it nicely. They haven’t won a playoff game in more than 17 years and recently changed ownership amidst various criminal investigations. Don’t worry, the team’s old owner still went home with $6 billion.

There have been some flashes of hope. Ticket sales are already up 52 percent from last season and the team has sold out every home game this year. The team, now owned by Josh Harris, celebrated this in a news release on Friday, but should have also credited the opposing team fans that took over the stadium this season, as Miami’s did last week. I guess the Commanders are happy that at least someone is having fun.

In the same news release, the team announced the Commanders would move their business operations from their home stadium, FedEx Field, to the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in Riverdale Park. University officials, as well as Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, praised the move for the economic prospect.

Facing calls to leave the state of Maryland entirely, the Commanders have instead chosen to double down. In order to cement their place in the state and finally drive some positive press, the Commanders should provide the students at this university with career development aid and athletic funding.

For any sort of funding plan, we should first identify where the money would be coming from. The team’s new ownership, with Harris as managing partner, also comprises local philanthropists and basketball legend Magic Johnson, who contributed $242 million to the purchase. If their past contributions are any indication, they would be willing to provide grant money for this new program, which I dub Commander U.

The program should, as the team mentioned in the news release, foster connection with the university community. The best way to do this would involve directly employing students, but nobody is doing that anyway, so internships will work for now. The Commanders could provide internship opportunities in a variety of fields by partnering with various areas of the university. For example, a Commander U representative visiting the public health school could recruit kinesiology majors to work with the team’s athletic specialists.

Commander U would have the added effect of creating a local pool of proven prospects to hire, potentially making the lives of the Commanders’ front office much easier. This could then lead to job opportunities for students, which is desperately needed amidst the unemployment crisis among recent graduates.

This university’s athletic department could also see the benefits of Commander U. Grant money, along with the opportunity to train with the team’s players and professional conditioning staff, would benefit our program. Athletic recruits, especially football players, would see this partnership as a reason to choose the Terps over other suitors. It would be a much-needed draw given the state of our name, image and likeness landscape, which pales in comparison with that of our Big Ten competitors.

Washington’s entire fanbase could see the benefits of Commander U if the program proves effective among students. This university is located only about 12 miles from Fedex Field, and students who don’t already have a favorite team could become Commanders fans if incentivised. The team has already provided a number of giveaways at home games this year, so a Terp Day at the stadium is not out of the question.

By investing in students, the Commanders could grow their talent pool, foster a new fanbase and truly make a home in Maryland. If they don’t, the Baltimore Ravens, who literally wear the Maryland flag on their sleeves, will certainly swoop in. They’ve encroached on the Commanders’ territory for years now.

The Commanders’ recent history has been marred by losing seasons, front office disasters, two rebrands and a decaying stadium that has literally defecated on fans. However, a stable partnership with this university could begin to turn things around.

It could finally provide the morale boost that the team’s new owners have tried to create all season. For younger fans of the team, it would be a sign of life that they’ve perhaps never seen before.

So Mr. Harris, unless you want to keep losing, we need Commander U.

Joey Barke is a junior government and politics and journalism major. He can be reached at