Dec. 31, 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.
I was told that Northern Illinois and their long-time rival, Ball State, have started a trophy game called the Battle for the Bronze Stalk. Are there any talks of SIU possibly starting a similar tradition with a rival school like Illinois State or Northern Iowa?
I would be interested in this to add more flavor to the games and certainly the Olympic sports contests. In addition, there would be big revenue potential from a title sponsor, if we could find one with connections to the two cities of the schools. When we enter into an agreement with a multi-media rights company, they will definitely look to secure this for us, as this is something that these companies typically try to do.
I'm frustrated that even with all of our success, we can't pack McAndrew Stadium. It seems to me that we are losing a lot of revenue from empty seats, but more importantly, we are not providing the team with enough fan support. Have you considered giving away tickets? I know it sounds crazy, but SIU isn't making money off of unsold tickets anyway, so what could it hurt? I'm willing to bet that we could make more money by giving tickets away because there would be more concession sales.
I think part of our problem is that we don't have much "price integrity" in the sport of football. We have multiple prices, group prices and most anyone can get a discounted ticket to a game. When the playoffs come along, and the NCAA mandates that we sell all the tickets at full price, then the fans don't seem to want to attend as much. I am not in favor of giving away tickets, as I wouldn't have an answer for the folks who want to know why they purchased tickets while others got them at no cost. What we need to do is build that new stadium, and with the reduced capacity and upgraded concessions, bathrooms, new scoreboards, we should be able to get close to packing the place regularly, and then we can stabilize our ticket prices. We do get a piece of the concessions, but it pretty minor in the overall scheme of our game day revenue.
Can you talk about how you conduct a search for a high-profile coaching position like football head coach?
This could be a long answer. After Jerry left for NIU, I reviewed all the biographies for the top 20 Division II teams, select Championship Subdivision head coaches, Bowl Subdivision coordinators and BCS position coaches -- probably 1,000 bios. We created a list of things that our former staff and Coach Kill thought to be the reason for our past successes, and using that matrix, pared down the candidate list to about 15. We (when I say we, I mean myself and the screening committee) then took the 15 or so names and called them to see if they had an interest in our position. After we found out if they did or didn't, we decided the 5 we wanted to fly into St. Louis for in-person interviews. We interviewed the candidates over a two-day period, and then brought in two candidates to Carbondale with their wives to meet with selected staff, including President Poshard and to look at the community and facilities. After that, I slept on it and offered the job to Coach Lennon. He accepted about 48 hours later in an exchange of contracts. We then called a press conference, flew him in and introduced him to the media and fans at the basketball game. Short answer to a long question, but I hope this gives you the gist of the process. To do this over Christmas and in only 15 days was pretty taxing on everyone, but in the end it was a pretty good feeling to do this so fast and get such a well-respected and received candidate.
I would like to get your thoughts about placing a possible special clause into our football and basketball head coaching contracts for the school that hires away our coach while still under contract. If we would happen to have a coach to move on, could we put a clause to possibly have our choice of either a home football game, basketball game, or an additional buy-out clause that the other school would have to honor? (PS: I want to thank you for the chance to sit in your seats for one game last winter. I was with my 10-year old in the bleachers very early before the Indiana State game when one of the athletic dept. student workers approached us and asked if we wanted to sit in "Mario's" seats. You weren't going to be able to use them during the game and wanted to find someone who appreciated them. She just happened to pick us out of the crowd. It was a big deal to my son (huge Saluki fan), he felt a bit like a VIP plus we didn't have to sit on those hard bleachers. Saw you around the arena that game but didn't get a chance to say thanks. So thanks, it may be a little thing but it was important to my 10-year old for that night.)
First off, I am glad you enjoyed the seats and the game. We do have this in Coach Lowery's contract, so if he were to leave for another school, we would have a home and home with that school. Problem is, that it isn't binding. We have a contract with Coach Lowery, not his new school, so that clause doesn't mean much. Being a guy of his word, I am sure he would play us, similar to Dennis Felton leaving Western Kentucky and going to Georgia and playing the four-year home and home. He didn't HAVE to do it, but it was what he thought was right for him to do.
Regarding the arena design, the corners in the lower bowl are not filled in. I was hoping that those seats would start high (approximately where the scoredboards are currently) and come down toward the floor giving the lower bowl a more rounded look. Why would the redesign not address this?
I have asked this several times, but am told there are mechanical systems behind those areas and the cost to move them wouldn't justify any new seats that could be gained. In addition, due to the curvature of the building, our architects insist that this isn't the proper design to add seats there, even if we could. It seems that the original design, albeit it nice, didn't allow for this unless we did some major work on the interior. At the end of the day, we have a finite amount of money to work with.
I heard something about a home and home series with Xavier in
men's basketball. Is there any truth to this and if so when would
We are still discussing options as it relates to next year's schedule. We should have a good handle on this within the month of January. If we did sign a deal, I would assume it would begin next year.
I was wondering if there are any plans to sell old
bench seats from McAndrew Stadium and the old chair
seats from the arena when the renovation begins on
both these facilities? I would love nothing more than
to have an old chairback seat from the arena in my
basement, not to mention a bench seat from the MAC.
We haven't put too much thought behind this at the present time, but I am sure when the time comes, we will see what can be salvaged from the old stadium and possibly sell/auction-off items, perhaps even on-line. I assume that we would have to follow University policy as it relates to surplus property, but that is something we can discuss in the future.
First, I would like to compliment you on taking on difficult questions. After reading that we are going to be "out-sourcing" our media rights, my first thought, and worry is, would this bring about "pay for listen" on computer broadcast games? I believe that would be both a huge mistake and hurt Saluki Fans across the country.
I do know that other Universities have pay-per-listen arrangements. Before we would move in any direction, I would like to know what other schools in our league are doing from this standpoint. The need for increasing revenue is important, as coaches salaries, tuition, books, room and board for our student-athletes, as well as gas and air travel for our teams, continue to rise, and we need to make sure we can pay for all this to stay competitive. If we do end up charging down the road, I am sure we would keep it to a nominal amount. I can't remember the specifics, but I know at Mizzou, our cost was pretty minimal. Either way, this is not at the forefront of our thinking, but you are correct that a multi-media rights company will certainly see this as a potential revenue stream.