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SBD/August 27, 2013/CollegesPrint All
While improving the Univ. of Colorado athletic department's image "relies partly on the football team winning games this season, many experts say the Boulder campus could be doing more to shape the public's perception," according to Sarah Kuta of the Boulder DAILY CAMERA. New CU AD Rick George said that he "plans to mill around at tailgates before every home game this season to hear how fans feel about everything from the game-day experience to the team's performance on the field." George said, "I'm very comfortable making decisions, but I like to get input. I like to hear what people are saying. Having that input on how they feel about things is vitally important at all levels." George said that he "hopes to outline a strategic plan for the Athletic Department, which will include a marketing plan," by April. George, after less than two weeks on the job, said that he "couldn't provide specific plans for improving Colorado's image, but he knows he and the department's marketing team will have to get 'creative.'" CU last year spent around $1.1M on marketing and promotions, which is "comparable to fellow Pac-12 schools Arizona State and Washington." CU Associate AD/External Affairs & CMO Matt Biggers said, "Honestly, our brand is very strong. The CU brand nationally is very strong. It's very easy for that to sometimes maybe get overshadowed because football is so prominent and gets a lot of the attention." CU last year as a 1-11 football program brought in $28M, "almost seven times more" than the $4.7M brought in by the 21-12 men's basketball team (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 8/25).
Indiana Univ. AD Fred Glass yesterday announced new initiatives to enhance the game-day experience at Memorial Stadium, and said that the school "soon would supply details on a capital campaign," according to David Woods of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. A new basketball arena "is not on the agenda." Glass said he is “not an advocate” for replacing Assembly Hall, adding such a project would cost $300M and “suck the oxygen kind of out of everything else that we’re doing.” Glass said that if IU was "able to sell out every home football game" -- capacity is 52,929 -- the school could "double revenue for that sport" from around $4.5-5M to $10M. Glass said, “One of the reasons we’re about football is that’s where the money is. As great as basketball is going, it’s largely at capacity.” Among the changes at the stadium include "new flat-screen TVs in the concourse and an antenna system to improve cellphone reception" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/27).
The "transformation" of the Oklahoma State Univ. football program, from the "deluxe facilities to competitive wages for coaches to the national perception, is remarkable," according to John Klein of the TULSA WORLD. OSU "has money," and, "finally, after so many years of neglect by OSU power brokers, the Cowboys are making it and spending it at a rate that rivals some of the biggest and most lucrative college athletic departments in the country." OSU, with about $87M of athletic department revenues, "would rank second in the Pac-12 or the ACC." OSU ranks "just ahead of schools like Nebraska, North Carolina, Washington and Minnesota." OSU AD Mike Holder said, "Who would have believed that 10 or 15 years ago. Who would have believed we would have Boone Pickens Stadium or the Sherman Smith indoor practice facility. Who would have believed the renovated and improved Gallagher-Iba Arena." Klein noted Holder "wasn't very popular a few years ago." He made "tough decisions, demanded more from alums who wanted more on the field, and transformed" the football program. Holder: "[OSU booster] Boone Pickens was afraid his huge gifts would discourage people from giving. What it did was encourage people to give more because they saw what was possible." But Klein notes the change "has not come without some ruffling of the feathers among the old guard at OSU." There was "much resistance in some circles to the push for increased ticket prices and athletic department giving." In addition to an expanded football program, a new tennis facility and track "will soon be completed in the athletic village." There also will be a "new baseball stadium along with improvements for soccer and equestrian fields" (TULSA WORLD, 8/26).
The UNLV athletic department is "living paycheck to paycheck," relying on money from the state, university and Thomas & Mack Center to balance its $30M budget, according to Mark Anderson of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Board of Regents Chair Kevin Page said that UNLV will "have to live within its means in the shrinking local economy." He added, "I think spending from the state is going to continue to go down across the board. So I think if UNLV has not become more self-supporting, then it'll get left behind." UNLV President Neal Smatresk in the next few months will introduce the school's 12th full-time AD -- who will "take over a troubled department with shaky finances, a struggling football program and a poor relationship with the Thomas & Mack Center." How the next AD "manages those issues will define the future of UNLV athletics." Turning around the football program is "key to helping the department move forward." A winning football program will "bring in money and give other sports a chance to flourish." The school invested $5.24M "in football last year and lost" $3.5M. Smatresk and UNLV's next AD "might have to decide whether to go all in with football or cut the sport all together if it doesn't turn around." Meanwhile, the relationship with the Thomas & Mack Center staff "has frayed." Those on the facility side "became frustrated, believing athletic directors relied too heavily on the flow of income from that building as well as Sam Boyd Stadium and Cox Pavilion and didn't raise enough funds on their own." The new AD will "have to show the Thomas & Mack will be used as more than an easy financial resource if relations between the sides are to be mended" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/25).