Feb. 29, 2008
This is the latest installment of our monthly feature called, "Ask the AD." If you have questions for Saluki Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, feel free to submit them by e-mail.
Won't making the upper level seats of the arena permanent hurt its ability to be used as a multipurpose facility for craft shows, welcome-fests, flea markets and various other activities?
In speaking with Jason King, our Associate AD for Game Operations and Facilities, the only events that it will be affected are the WelcomeFest and the History and Math Fair. The fairs can be held on the main floor, if we continue to host them. We no longer have the craft show, due to revenue reasons. The flea markets are being held in the parking lots.
I know the NCAA doesn't allow schools to sell jerseys with players' names on them, but what about making "vintage" Chris Lowery jerseys?
For a garment such as this, major brands, like Nike, require the merchandiser to purchase upwards of 144 units at a high price point. So far, no merchandiser has been willing to take that gamble. I imagine some stores could get licensed and produce a less expensive version of Coach Lowery's old jersey, but then the question is, do fans want to wear something that doesn't look like it cost top dollar? I do think if a merchandiser believes a market exists, they will attempt to tap into it.
Why have the SIU cheerleaders had three different coaches in three years, and why didn't they and the mascots go to Florida with the Shakers and compete forthe UCA National Championships?
I asked our current Shaker Coach, Tawmi Conley to weigh in on this, and she told me that the cheerleaders have never competed at the National Championship. The past three coaches have shown a desire to make the program better, so they can compete, but they haven't stayed long enough to become a nationally competitive program. I have worked at four different universities, and often times, like it is at SIU, the cheer coach position doesn't pay very much. Someone must hold down a full-time job and do this on the side, which makes it difficult to develop continuity. Since our current budget will not allow a full-time cheer coach (we don't have a full-time shaker coach, either), we are constantly striving to find that one person. Our current cheer coach, Maggie Mitchell, has done a great job with this year's group, but has informed us that she won't return next year. We will be re-doubling our efforts to find someone who can lend stability to this program and send our cheer and mascots to camp to get the information about Nationals and how to qualify.
Will the remodeled arena have a new heating and a/c system?
John Eyler, one of the principal architects for 360, tells me that the SIU Arena will have new HVAC. They will attempt to salvage the ductwork.
You recently stated that the new stadium would have reduced seating. The pictures I have seen make it look bigger. What are the before and after figures?
The maximum capacity of McAndrew Stadium is currently 17,324. The projected maximum capacity for the new football stadium is 15,000, which includes 12,000 fixed seats and 3,000 available locations on the berm.
I was wondering how much input the ADs have on evaluating the MVC referees and their performance during the year? It seems to me that the Valley is officiated much differently that other power conferences, with far too many fouls called on plays where there is very little contact.
The head coaches evaluate the referees after each game, and their total scores are reviewed by the head of officiating for the MVC, as well as the commissioner. The ADs don't have evaluating power, but we do determine the pay for the officials and certainly strive to get as many "E" tier (which is the highest rating) for as many games as possible. Along with our men's basketball coach, I can't publicly comment on officiating.
With the University's commitment to increased enrollment, is it wise to reduce the seating capacity in SIU Arena?
I don't have this information at my fingertips at the moment, but I do have a document listing all the capacities of the MVC arenas and the seats dedicated to students, and ours was at the very top with a little more than 20 percent of the total seats being held for students. Even with the push to increase student attendance, it is very rare that all 1,900+ tickets are picked up. Mark Gazdik, our Assistant AD for Marketing and Promotions, tells me that our student section has only sold out three times (Indiana, Creighton and Illinois State) this season, even though Dawg Pound membership has increased from 400 to more than 1,600. Now, this isn't the reason why the arena will have a reduced capacity. The primary reasons are the arena footprint and building code specifications. We will strive to preserve the maximum amount of seats, as we finalize the design of the building.
I have noticed a lot of "canned" music lately at the men's basketball games. Sometimes it is played over the pep band. I am curious why this is happening? I would much rather hear the pep band than recorded music. I love the collage atmosphere, and too much piped-in music changes the collegiate feel.
With the increase in ticket sales, we made a decision to try to offer a bit more "entertainment," mainly through halftime shows, contests and promotions. We will do a thorough review of our operation heading into next year, and Director of Marching Bands Andrew Tucker will be included in the discussion. I am a traditionalist as well, and if a canned song or two placed at the right moment can get the crowd up, then I am all for it, but I would like the band music to outweigh the canned music, as this isn't an NBA contest.
Looking at the new arena, have we thought about moving the Dawg Pound to the side?
With so many schools having their student sections in the end zones, it seems that this is the place where they can have the most impact. I'd like to have the visiting team have to shoot into the student section in the second half, if possible, to make it as difficult a home environment as possible for the visitors, but Coach Lowery and others will weigh in on that, as well as the leadership of the Dawg Pound. In addition, having to uproot all the alumni and donors who have sat there for years would certainly be a massive headache that I would not look forward to taking on.