Ask the AD -- May Edition

    May 30, 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.

    E-Mail a question to Mario Moccia

    My son will be joining the Salukis this fall and will be playing tennis for Coach Dann Nelson. I was wondering what the timetable is for the new tennis facility? Will it be ready for fall 2008 action. Can we as parents be involved in helping in any way?
    The current plan is for both the southern-most six tennis courts and the rec sports softball fields to be removed in August or September. After this is completed, two new tennis courts will be constructed west of the remaining six courts for a total of eight. It is our hope that these courts will be completed where we could get some use out of them during part of the fall, but we haven't had a specific timetable given to us yet. As this is part of the Saluki Way project, anyone can assist financially, and I'd encourage you to contact Chet Savage, Associate AD for External Operations or Casey Hale, Director of Development at 618-453-3148. We appreciate you and your son's selection of SIU and your interest in assisting us!

    Since Carbondale is giving you money, why can't you just add 10,000 seats to Frank Bleyer field and play football there? Does Carbondale really two new football stadiums and two decaying sites of old football stadiums?
    The City of Carbondale's contractual agreement with the University calls for the building of a new football stadium, not the revamping of an existing facility located off-campus. I most certainly believe Carbondale needs separate stadiums for both its high school and University teams. When I was working at Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos High School played their games on Friday nights at our University stadium, but still worked out at their field during the week. At times, sharing a facility is possible, but with visiting teams needing a walk-through on the day before a game, separate facilities are best, in my opinion. There is a plan in place to remove the west and east stands from McAndrew once the new stadium is built and functional. Eventually, when the track is relocated south (by Abe Martin Field), the site will be demolished and it will make room for an undecided University building.

    Will the new football stadium be called McAndrew Stadium or will it have a new name?
    Typically, when there is a new facility built, it carries a new name. At the college level, typically something within the new facility is selected to memorialize the old stadium. We have had brief discussions about this, but we are not close to making a decision.

    Can you break down the ways to give to the athletic department, and what is the area of greatest importance? Does one just give through Opportunity Through Excellence, or should one contribute directly to SASF, Saluki Way, a specific program, etc.? How can I and other smaller dollar donors best help?

    There are many ways to give to the athletic department, and I have listed four of the main ones below:

    Saluki Way: This is a project that the generated funds will be used to build the football stadium, basketball arena and the attached building that will house new offices and locker rooms. The total cost of this is $83M. Athletics needs to come up with approximately $20M, and we are around $3.5M at the present time. We have a ton of folks on our prospect list and are receiving donations on a regular basis (I like to remind folks that we were at $1.6M not too long ago). The money donated is tax deductable (consult your tax advisor) and aside from the philanthropic aspect, depending on the amount, it will allow donors to place themselves for prime seating in the new facilities, as well as potential naming opportunities. This is a high importance.

    SASF: The Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund is our annual fund that goes to offset the scholarships that we give out to all of our student-athletes. As a reminder, when we give a scholarship to Matt Shaw or a women's tennis player, the athletic department has to pay for those, and when the tuition at SIU increases, so does our bill. To put it in perspective, last year we raised about $825,000, and our tuition bill from main campus was about $1,600,000. This year, we might get to $1.1M in the SASF, but our tuition bill is around $1,900,000, so it is always an uphill battle. By donating to the SASF, you receive seating and parking benefits and a priority to MVC and NCAA seating in men's basketball and football. This is a very high priority.

    Individual sports: You can still donate to individual sports, which go into an account that the coach can use to purchase things that perhaps their budget doesn't cover. To eliminate everyone just donating to football and men's basketball, we don't give any benefits to this type of giving, other than in our point system, but we don't want to discourage any ex-athlete or fan who has an affinity to just one sport. This is not a high priority for me.

    Endowments: This is an amount of money (a minimum of $25,000 before it is considered fully funded) that the principal (or corpus) can't be touched, but it can be added to each year. The interest accumulated can be earmarked to a scholarship or a program. This is a way that a donor's dollars can live in perpetuity and assist someone or some program that they have an affinity with. This isn't too high of a priority for me, as we need more spendable cash to pay our annual bills. Endowments are wonderful tools for a University and are huge at Stanford and Texas A&M, but not my highest priority here.

    At the end of the day we appreciate any donations to the athletic program. We always tell donors where our needs are, but in the end, we want them to be happy and put the money where THEY want it to go. Some of my comments about different type of giving reflect where and how I think donations are most needed at SIU at the current time.

    You talked about adding lights to Abe Martin Field in the May Ask the AD. What about salvaging the lights from the intramural fields and moving them to Abe Martin?
    The lights for the intramural fields would not be up to NCAA standards from a height or foot-candle standpoint. At the present time, the plan calls for the intramural lights to move with the fields to their new location.

    Occasionally, people discuss whether a specific athletic program makes or loses money. I have always objected to this mindset. Everything worthwhile has a cost.These same people never ask how much money the student center or health services or other needed facets of the university made or lost. Perhaps you could address this situation?
    I believe this has been and probably will be a constant way to rank or rate certain programs. Certainly, we offer athletic programs, marching bands, cheer, etc... that don't make a profit, but at the same time it is also what makes up the fabric of the athletic program and the University as a whole. Those alumni who graduate are the same folks that we ask to support us with ticket purchases and donations, as well as sending their kids to SIU. Most specific athletic programs don't make a profit. At SIU, only men's basketball makes more than it spends, and at my previous institution, the University of Missouri, only football and men's basketball made more than what it took in. When I was at Southwest Texas State, none of the sports took in more than what they spent, so it is all relative. The BCS schools do have an opportunity to make a true profit from a business standpoint, but they are in the minority, and many of them run deficits as opposed to turning a profit. I believe our charge is to be good stewards of the money we receive from the state and student fees and make sure we are being frugal while investing in the areas where we can get a return, while conforming to federal Title IX guidelines and making sure all our student-athletes are being treated in a first-class manner.

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