The Univ. of Maryland "continued to remodel its athletic future Tuesday, announcing it will guarantee lifetime scholarships for athletes in revenue and non-revenue sports," according to Roman Stubbs of the WASHINGTON POST. UM athletes "were previously offered one-year financial agreements subject to renewal each year." Athletes on full and partial scholarships "will be covered by the new financial umbrella, which is fully retroactive." UM AD Kevin Anderson said that school is currently graduating about 86% of its athletes, and the program "will attempt to increase that number." Stubbs reports the move "will take effect in November, in time for the NCAA’s early signing period, and is expected to have broad implications for how the athletic department conducts business in the coming years." The initiative, "touted by the school as the 'Maryland Way Guarantee,' also calls for aid to be guaranteed through graduation for athletes who exhaust their eligibility before graduating, as well as those who are unable to compete because of injury." The program "will also provide tuition, books and fees for athletes who leave the university in good academic standing and return to finish their degrees." Anderson said that the program "won’t cost 'in the millions of dollars,' adding that the school will raise additional funds through an endowment, the Terrapin Club Scholarship Fund, and is seeking additional revenue-generating opportunities, including multimedia rights and ticket sales." The school this year paid more than $10.6M worth of student-athlete scholarships (WASHINGTON POST, 8/20). In Baltimore, Don Markus notes UM is among the first D-I schools "in the country to give what Anderson called a 'lifetime' scholarship to its athletes." Anderson said that the school "still has some leeway to help former athletes who have returned the past few years in order to graduate, as well as current athletes who will not have the benefit of being officially in the scholarship program" (Baltimore SUN, 8/20).
Season-ticket sales for Univ. of Hawaii football "are running 2,000 below last year, and are at a seven year-low," according to Matt Tuohy of the PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS. UH AD Ben Jay said that 16,055 full season-tickets and 148 mini-packs that include four football games and six volleyball games "had been sold as of Monday." Tuohy noted last year's sales "totaled out at 18,391 season ticket and 646 mini-packs." Season-ticket sales "end next week, but don't account for student season ticket sales, which start on Aug. 25" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/19).
BAD TIMING FOR A THREAT: Jay's comments from Monday that the UH football program could be cut if the athletic department's finances do not improve continue to be discussed, with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's Dave Reardon saying Jay "probably should have had that conversation in a private session" with the school's Board of Regents. However, he was "kind of under orders from superiors on campus to bring this situation to the Regents." Regardless, this is "bad timing for the start of the season. When it gets out there in such a viral matter on a platform like Twitter, which a lot of young people and potential recruits use, they’re not seeing the whole story. They’re just seeing that the Athletic Director of the Univ. of Hawaii saying football might not exist” ("Hawaii News Now," KGMB-CBS, 8/19). In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis writes despite Jay's claim, the team "isn't going anywhere in the immediate future." Lewis: "That this even has to be explained is ridiculous, but that's what happens when an athletic director says the wrong thing and it goes viral via social media." It could be argued Jay "might have done his job of shaking things up," because when someone says something people "don't want to hear, you have to make sure you are clear." However, it is "yet another bizarre episode in recent UH athletics history, most of them stemming from financial woes -- real and perceived" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 8/20). Meanwhile, ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Jay's comments are "foreshadowing to some extent, because it means the mid-majors ... are not necessarily going to have the money to be able to adopt some of these new policies." ESPN's Jason Whitlock said the NCAA should "get creative" and think of ways to "make the lower five conferences competitive." Whitlock: "Think of ways for them to add additional revenue, get their own television package" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/19).
In Pittsburgh, Bob Cohn reports after a 4-8 season in '13, West Virginia has sold "about 4,000 fewer full season tickets" for football compared to the same period last year. WVU last year "sold 33,623 season tickets," but with this year's home opener "about 2 1/2 weeks away, 29,419 have been sold." Overall attendance "declined last season as WVU lost six of its last seven games." Crowds "averaged 52,910 in six home games," the lowest for WVU since '03 (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/20). Meanwhile, in West Virginia, Mickey Furfari reports WVU has sold "just about 21,000 tickets to its fans" for the season-opening game on Aug. 30 against Alabama in Atlanta. When including tickets bought for internal use, WVU Associate AD/External Affairs Matt Wells said, "In all, we've sold probably a little more than 22,000. And we're very pleased about this" (Beckley REGISTER-HERALD, 8/20).
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOW: In Boulder, Kyle Ringo reports the Aug. 29 Colorado-Colorado State game at Sports Authority Field is "producing lackluster ticket sales once again." CSU Dir of Media Relations Paul Kirk said that the school has "sold approximately 15,000 tickets as of Tuesday morning" despite coming off an 8-4 season. The team is "hoping for a surge in student ticket sales" when students return for the fall semester. CU last week noted it has sold 21,800 tickets, though it "expects to be north of 30,000 in ticket sales by game day because student ticket sales are not yet factored into the report." CU Associate AD & SID Dave Plati said that the school "generally sells 8,000 or more tickets to students for the game" (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 8/20).
PANTHER PROWL: Pitt Exec Associate AD/External Affairs Chris Ferris said that 36,000 season tickets have been sold so far, and that figure "could reach 39,000 by kickoff" for the season opener against Delaware on Aug. 30. In Pittsburgh, Jerry DiPaola reports the school "could attract about 50,000 people for its opener" when figuring in 11,000 student tickets, 4,000 single-game tickets and a "walk-up crowd stirred by the Ribfest" that is accompanying the game. From '08-13, Pitt "averaged 48,000 fans at Heinz Field." Meanwhile, Penn State has sold 5,000 new season tickets this year, but a school official "did not elaborate on how sales compare to last season's numbers at this time" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/20).
AMERICAN SATURDAY NIGHT: In Hartford, Desmond Conner reported UConn has "sold 21,000 season tickets for this season." The school will "make another big push before the season begins at 42,000-seat Rentschler Field on Aug. 29 against BYU." UConn "sold 24,500 season tickets last year, a number boosted by home games" against Michigan and the return of current Maryland coach Randy Edsall. This year's figure is "expected to grow when students return." School officials said that they "typically sell nearly 2,000 when students come back" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/19).
CYCLONE WATCH: In Des Moines, Randy Peterson reported Iowa State has "surpassed the sale of 40,000 football season tickets for the third season in a row." A total of 40,581 season tickets "have been purchased so far," marking the "second-best in school history" behind last year's record of 43,178 (DES MOINES REGISTER, 8/16).
OPENING NEW 'DORES: In Nashville, Mike Organ reported Vanderbilt's marketing team "called an audible this season with its football campaign and is nearly at the same point in terms of ticket sales as last season," with just "slightly more than 16,000 season tickets" sold. The school's marketing strategy "shifted this year from last year's 'Game Changer' campaign, which was delivered primarily in television, radio, billboards, print and digital ads." The new campaign is "being delivered in a more direct route to fans." Vandy's marketing department has "spent much more time in the community along with new coach Derek Mason trying to meet fans and encourage them to buy tickets." Rather than ask Mason to "take the time to make a television commercial like former coach James Franklin did, the new approach was to take Mason into the community" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/17).