June 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.
A year ago, you wrote an article about the financial benefit to SIU for making the Sweet 16. Can you provide data concerning what SIU received for its two NIT games?
We haven't received our revenue share yet for our two NIT games, but I am anticipating about $3,000 per game, so SIU would receive a total of approximately $6,000. This pales in comparison with NCAA Tournament revenue and even the new CBI tournament is making a case for better profitability in certain circumstances. At the end of the day, the reality is that we play in the NIT for exposure (we had two games on ESPN), the ability to have a BCS opponent come to Carbondale, and getting our young players another few games to have under their belt, in addition to the opportunity to get to the finals in New York.
I attended Southern in the late 60's, early 70's, and of course everyone still talks about Frazier, the NIT and all that. What is forgotten is that we were a national power in wrestling as well as men's and women's gymnastics. Is there any thoughts to establishing us in these sports?
It might not be at the forefront of our fans' thinking, but I am constantly reminded about our great success in wrestling and gymnastics in past years. Adding a sport has many components to consider, of which three jump to my mind. Is it sponsored by our conference? What are the cost implications? What would the Title IX ramifications be? At the present time, I don't believe any Missouri Valley Conference teams sponsor the sports of wrestling or men's or women's gymnastics. Adding one or all of these sports would then require us to find a conference to participate in, similar to how men's swimming currently competes in the Sunbelt Conference, which ultimately makes competition difficult. Second, adding a sport would cost a significant amount of money for salaries, scholarships, travel and the creation of facilities. Finally, with the delicate balance we walk between a ratio of male and female athletes, we would only be in a position to add a female sport. The one glaring omission from our varsity sports is women's soccer, which I believe seven current MVC schools sponsor, and that seems to be the logical choice, if we were ever to add a sport.
What is the possibility of adding men's and women's soccer at SIU sometime in the future? With the huge foreign student population at the school, if the University ever fielded teams, it would have a tremendous recruiting advantage, and it would seem that the teams would generate a lot of interest from the student population.
As I stated in a previous question, I believe that if a sport is added at SIU the most likely one would be women's soccer. With the sport being played by seven MVC schools, our proximity to soccer hotbeds like St. Louis, and for other reasons, I would think we would have an opportunity to be successful in this sport. I could see the discussions to add this sport increasing in three to five years, once Saluki Way is completed and the financing that must be dedicated to this project becomes more clear.
I drive 400 miles to attend football and basketball games. How about a game in the eastern Tennessee region sometime soon? Seems like we go north, south and west but east seems a little ignored. There are lots of Salukis out this way.
We haven't done this on purpose for sure, and we continue to recruit kids like a Josh Bone from Tennessee or Tyrone Green from Kentucky, so this would be a logical area for us to get a game or two in. Currently, we are working on expanding our series with Western Kentucky, have had preliminary discussions with the University of Kentucky for a neutral site series on both sides (one in Louisville and one in St. Louis) and also considering games with UNC-Wilmington. In addition, we just played at Charlotte last season, so we are not totally neglecting the eastern part of the country. We will keep this in mind for sure.
When will the conference schedule/dates be announced for the Men's Basketball program? Also, can you expand on potential non-conference matchups we may not already know about for the upcoming season, or at least which conferences we are courting?
I am counting on late July or early August before we receive this schedule from the MVC. We have had discussions with many schools, such as Xavier, Dayton, UNC-Wilmington, SEMO, San Diego, perhaps Mississippi State in a Wooden Classic neutral site game, the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament which is two home games against yet undetermined teams. Don't read too much into all the folks I have just mentioned, as in scheduling, there is a feeling out process, and that is what we are still going through.
My daughter currently is a junior at Evanston High School playing lacrosse and is interested in SIU because of her interest in deaf education. Just wondering if there are any plans to add LaCrosse in the near future or are there club opportunities?
There are no plans to currently add the sport of lacrosse at SIU. I called the SIU Rec Center, and they told me that currently we have a men's club team and some women do play on the team. I'd hope that on a campus visit, you and your daughter could inquire more about this specific club sport and receive some information on it and perhaps connect with some of the females on the team.
Thanks for providing this opportunity for true Saluki fans to communicate with the leadership of Saluki Athletics. My question relates to the the southern Illinois community at large. So much of what makes up support for SIU is found in the small towns and burgs of southern Illinois like New Minden, Hoyleton, Germantown, Richview, Aviston, Hoffman, Addieville, Breese and Irvington just to name a couple. What can be done in these towns by the local folks to increase awareness of Saluki Athletics?
We can certainly do more, and yes we have some plans for the future for towns of this size. We have had success in the last two years of actually taking tickets to specific football games and making them available for purchase at a prominent location in the town, while advertising a specific games as let's say "New Minden Day". We would discount the tickets and make sure that during the game we announced that a group from that community was in attendance. Julie Beck, our director of sales has done a great job with this and has plans to expand it for upcoming years. If I could pick one factor that would help make these projects a success, it would be finding a rabid Saluki Fan in each town to assist us with the sales efforts, talk the game up in the community and assist us in sheperding the process to fruition. Thanks for this question, as we can always add to our attendance totals, and this is a great way to do it.