Ask the AD -- September Edition



    Sept. 30, 2007

    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

    A few years ago, SIU played South Florida in football in Tampa. Is there any chance of the Salukis playing in south Florida again? Perhaps against FAU, FIU,UCF, or even UM?
    There is always a chance, but our current strategy is to play one Football Bowl Subdivision team per year, preferably within driving distance. In addition, football schedules are determined far in advance, so we have scheduled all our FBS games through 2011. With many of our athletes coming from the south, the possibility does exist, but I wouldn't count on a trip to the Sunshine state any time soon.

    My goal is to get some kind of job as an AD whether it's a college, high school, or even the professional level. Currently, I am obtaining a bachelor's in business management, since SIUC does not offer Sports Management. I was just curious what your advice would be on how I should go? Should I just do some minors in Recreation or maybe a master's degree? Or should I not worry about taking sports/recreations classes and focus on Management?
    I don't believe that your bachelor's degree has to be from an athletic administration background. I would encourage you to seek out a master's degree in athletic administration for several reasons. Since education is the primary mission on a college campus, it is important to be "degree'd up." It shows prospective employers that you are involved in the educational aspect of the business, even if the opportunity to have "real world" athletics experience hasn't materialized yet. Southern Illinois offers a master's degree in Kinesiology, which used to be referred to as "Physical Education," so this would be a great option right here. Take a look at the University website under Kinesiology, and I think you will find the degree track you are looking for. Good luck.

    Since it is not realistic for SIU to build a pyramid sports complex, what do you think about having several decent sized pyramids around the perimeter of the Arena? A Little Egypt theme inscribed onto them would be pretty cool.
    We haven't gotten to that level of detail yet, but I certainly want to play up the "Little Egypt" theme, since it is very unique to our school. In addition, I'd like to play-up our mascot in the design, as I feel that most of the country outside of southern Illinois or even the state of Illinois knows us more by Salukis than any other name, including SIU. Just my personal opinion, but we will definitely make sure these "appointments" reflect the uniqueness of our heritage.

    Why is there no running track in the drawings of the new football stadium? There is no room on campus for two stadiums. And isn't it safer for the cheerleaders, band and the coaches and players to have the buffer zone of space that the track provides?
    The original master plan called for a new track and field to be constructed south of the arena, by Abe Martin field. We have kept this line of thinking and wanted to make sure that in the new football stadium the stands were as close as possible to the field as industry standards would allow. Currently, if you are standing on the field at McAndrew Stadium, it feels like you can actually see for miles. We would like to create more of the type of atmosphere we experienced at the University of Montana last year -- that is, when you step onto the field, all you can see (and hear) is the crowd. This makes for a much better view for the fans, makes them feel more a part of the game and is a much more difficult environment for the visiting team. At Montana and other places I have visited with similarly tight sidelines, the cheer and dance teams are located past the 20 yard lines, away for the action, but as always, we need to make sure we have people watching our spirit squads' backs. Last Saturday, Nick Hill inadvertently knocked down one of Indiana State's male cheerleaders after being pushed out of bounds on a scramble.

    I just read your response to a question regarding ranking donors with a point system. I'm not sure I understand what you or the questioner are talking about here. Would you explain it please?
    Almost all athletic departments have a version of a scholarship fund where the school solicits annual funds in the form of donations (of which the majority of the money is tax deductible) that go to offsetting the cost of giving athletic scholarships. When we give a scholarship to Randal Falker or Krystal Stein on our softball team, it isn't "free." We have to pay Southern Illinois University for this scholarship, just as a parent would for their child. When the costs of scholarships go up through a tuition increase, our costs rise as well. In addition, the vast majority of athletic departments rank their donors on some sort of point system. With the SASF (Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund) we award base and annual points for the following:

    Base
    25 one time points for being a current SASF member
    3 points for a life time membership in the Alumni Association
    3 point for all current and retired faculty and staff at SIU
    4 points for a SIU former letterwinner
    1 point for every $200 donated to any athletic account, including restricted giving to individual sports accounts and capital campaigns

    Annual
    1 point for each $100 contribution to the SASF
    2 points for each consecutive year of giving
    1 point for $500 future dollars donated to the SASF (irrevocable deferred gifts)
    1 point for membership in the Alumni Association
    1 point for each $100 contributed to Saluki Way athletic facilities
    3 points each for consecutive years of season ticket purchase in football, men's and women's basketball
    1 point for each $100 donated by newly recruited SASF members

    We have had a desire to have our point system operation for a long time, but "red tape" issues had stalled. We now have the ability to rank all our SASF donors from #1 to #1,800+ and will be rolling this out prior to the MVC basketball tournament. This is how we will be allocating our ticket allotment.

    It's widely known that Chris Lowery has had, and will have, some pretty high profile recruits on campus for both official and unofficial visits. I know that architectural drawings of the updated Arena and Mac have not been released to the public as of yet, but does Lowery (and Kill) have anything to show recruits?
    They do, and we have shown them during the recruiting process.

    How has the state fiscal crisis affected SIU athletics?
    Not too bad. When enrollment goes down (which affects student fees) or the state of Illinois gives less than planned to higher education, everyone feels the belt tightening. I think we have done a wonderful job of budgeting conservatively over the years (kudos to Paul Kowalczyk and our current Associate AD Mark Scally) and have a great plan in place if we need to cut back on spending. It isn't too dissimilar than managing a home check book. You don't spend more than you are taking in, and you prioritize what cuts can be made without effecting the student-athlete first, our ability to win second and our personnel needs third.

    I have been looking for an authentic basketball jersey for the last four years. I am not talking about the replicas that 710 sells, I am talking about the real SIU (Nike) basketball jersey. When is the school going to make that happen?
    I took your question to my friend Randy Johnson -- the head honcho at 710 Bookstore, and man did I stir up a hornet's nest. As you might know, Randy is a HUGE Saluki fan. He told me that 710 has tried to pursue this issue and continues to work on getting access to the "real" jersey, but until then can only get availability on the replicas. Please continue to check with them. Nike really takes a lot of time on these types of items, and I personally experienced this while overseeing the Tiger Team Store at Mizzou. Randy was involved with the University of Kentucky for years, and even they would get their items in mid-December. Nike just isn't set up the way you would think, and I didn't "get it" until I toured their operation in Beaverton a few years ago. Keep looking out for them, and hopefully sometime soon we can get these done.

    I'm an alumnus as of May, so I don't have tons of extra cash. Can you set it up so we can buy some bricks or pavers in the new Saluki Way? A lot of the Big Ten schools and other big-name schools I've seen have done it, and it looks cool.
    We will definitely do this at the appropriate time. As is typical in capital campaigns, we will solicit the big donors first and then work our way through our prospect list. Traditionally, we will do a "brick" or "tile" program toward the end to give everyone an opportunity to contribute to this project. Please send us your name and info, and we will put you in the brick program file. Thanks for offering to assist.

    Can we have some 3D images and so forth ready for the renovated arena and new football stadium, so that College Gameday can show it off to the nation? I've seen it done for other schools and pro teams during a game.
    We are working with 360 architecture to show some of the images on our national TV broadcast in football this weekend (CSTV) and also with our national broadcast of our "Maroon Madness" event on ESPNU on Oct 12th. I have discussed that I really don't like putting something out there that isn't 100 percent what it is going to be. However, I do think the opportunity to show our tentative plans through national TV is too great to pass up. It is one of our few mediums that can hit our entire alumni base at one time while also impressing prospective students and student-athletes.

    Why are there no night football games other than game one this year? Can we expect to have only day games on future home schedules? Will there be lights in the new stadium? Does attendance differ between day and night games at SIUC? Does revenue differ between day and night games at SIUC? Who determines the day / night home schedule?
    We attempted to standardize all our game times. In the past we had four different game times during a season, and we all met as a staff and with Coach Kill and tried to make it more uniform. With a five-game schedule, it makes it tough. The first game is always going to be a night game and probably game two as well, but this year we added Band Day as a promotion where we had almost 1,000 band members from southern Illinois schools, and this had to be a day game. Homecoming is always a day game, and then Family Day on October 20th is getting to the area where it might be a little cold at night, and certainly the last game on the season we would like to play in the daylight for the warmth.

    It always depends on the schedule, but I'd say at least two night games would be more standard in the future. There will certainly be lights at the new stadium. There are some trends both in attendance and revenue that we studied before coming to a final decision on the 2007 game times, but according to our staff, we only have accurate crowd counts beginning from the 2004 season, as before that, the "fudge factor" appears very high. Our group that discussed the game times was myself, Jason King, Associate AD for Facilities and Game Operations, Mark Scally, Associate AD for Business Operations, Brad Pietz, Director of Ticketing Operations, Chet Savage, Associate AD for External Operations, Julie Beck, Director of Group Sales and Jerry Kill.

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