July 1, 2009
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.
Will the new stadium have brand new artificial turf? I have heard that the existing turf from McAndrew might be moved there.
The new stadium will have brand-new synthetic grass. FieldTurf, which is one of the industry leaders in this area, will be providing the surface. The existing turf at McAndrew Stadium will be kept there and utilized as a practice site for football and other sports as the weather dictates.
For all of the great events and games played at the Mac over the years, I think it would be a fitting end to the stadium to send it off after its final home game with a New Orleans Jazz Funeral style celebration.Having the Marching Salukis start it off with somber dirge and then breaking into a raucous jazz parade piece sounds about right for the soon to be former home for Saluki Football. What do you think?
Well, that certainly would be unique. We are attempting to give the Mac a big sendoff and going to try to make sure we have a lot of fans in the stands. As you know, November football game attendance is something we have made an emphasis upon and taken great strides forward, but is still not where we want it to be. We will be honoring all former Saluki football players at this game and are working on two special guests as well. More specifically related to your question, a big loss we have suffered is that of Marching Saluki band director Andrew Tucker, who moved on to another university. He was by far the best band director I have ever worked with and is going to be tough to replace. We will make sure to encourage the new person to bring a ton of spirit and energy to game day. I'll make sure your suggestion is passed along to Mark Gazdik, Assistant AD for Marketing, who is responsible for game-day atmosphere.
I'm sure you get this all the time, but doesn't right now seem like the perfect time to the join to FBS? With new facilities being built and football being in a great situation competitive-wise, doesn't it seem like a natural time to transition?
I do get this all the time, and as much as great as the idea sounds, here are some of the hurdles we would face. First, we would need to add (or at least phase-in) 22 more full athletic scholarships, which is approximately $450,000 annually. Another major hurdle would be to find a conference in which to play. A new conference would mean extra travel costs. In addition, we would need to meet NCAA attendance criteria, hire another full time coach and several other "little things" that would have a big impact on our operation. We have been very successful at the FCS level, and I never say never, but with the economy the way it is, I think it would be dangerous financially to make this leap at the present time. Also, this would need to be a University decision and not just an athletic department decision. Finally, many people point to Western Kentucky, which is making the FBS transition, as an example, but one thing that made their situation a little easier was that they were already in the Sun Belt Conference in every sport but football, so it made some sense for them to do this.
We all know how Saluki Way will affect the athletes and fans, but how will the athletic department coaches and employees be affected by all the new office space?
Good question. The men's and women's basketball coaches and staff will get new offices, along with the football coaches and staff. The equipment room staff, some of the athletic training staff and ticket office staff will be moving as well. That will free up much needed space in Lingle Hall for many of our coaches and staff, who are sharing offices, and in some instances, converted closets. We even had some staff in the crow's nest of the SIU arena, so the move will be of a great benefit to individuals who are not moving to the new building.
Will the tailgate area continue to be in the same location? Has any thought been given to using the practice fields south of the new facility for that purpose?
We are waiting for the final product to take shape. We have discussed this a little, but want to see how it looks next May and June, in order to make the most informed decision possible. We certainly have discussed the practice fields as a possibility, but need to factor in the wear and tear it would receive. I like how close it is to the stadium, but being fenced in is a concern. I would like to make sure that fans can still mill about the stadium and come out to the Saluki pregame walk and not be "penned" in for all of pre-game. I anticipate that the current location of Saluki Row will continue to be utilized in some fashion, as it is great real estate for tailgating.