Presented 11 20 02
Approved 11 20 02
Present: Gip Seaver (Chair), Nestor Osorio, Paul Bauer, Ron Short, Ray Dembinski, Cary Groth, Earl Hansen, Ken Olson, Robert Wheeler, Brian Scholle, Marcia Dick, Ray Tourville, Joe True, Tara Hawkins.
Guests: Sheila Berg, Athletics Business Manager; Beth Calder, Athletics Ticket Manager; Cameron Edwards, Marketing and Promotions; Steve Ekhoff, Marketing and Promotions; Scott Lowenberg, Marketing and Promotions; Tekla Martin, Athletic Development.
I. Call to Order – Dr. Gip Seaver
II. Approval of September 18, 2002 Meeting Minutes
Robert Wheeler made a motion to approve the minutes. Brian Scholle seconded the motion.
Gip reported that the approved Athletic Board meeting minutes will be posted on the University Council website.
Having no additions or corrections, the motion was carried.
B. Gender Equity
Sheila Berg and Ray Tourville reported that President Peters has made no further comment on the athletics budget. The fourth quarterly report is complete but it will be combined with the first quarter and presented for action at the November meeting. Athletics is still operating under last year’s figures. Paul Bauer asked if there are some general revenue funds available and what is happening with cuts or freezes. Cary Groth responded that she and Sheila need to discuss what is required from the president’s office now. She went on to report that the budget has been balanced aside from the $250,000 through camps and fund raising. There was no deficit coming into this fiscal year. More budget information will be presented at next month’s meeting.
D. Faculty Athletics Representative
Ray Dembinski reported that discussion had taken place last spring relative to increasing progress toward degree requirements to 40/60/80 at the fourth, sixth, and eighth semesters. It looks as if it is going to move forward. The student-athletes and academic advisors will need to be prepared as we move into next academic year.
E. Student Welfare
F. Huskie Club
Brian Scholle reported that Tekla Martin has provided information for him to share today. Year-to-date figures versus this time last year are up approximately $20,000 in cash and new donations. We are up approximately $30,000 in gift-in-kind donations. He went on to report that a piece of good news has been received. A gift of $50,000 has been received to contract the architect for the proposed student-athlete development center which would be located at the north end zone of the Stadium and would house the football coaches’ offices. Approximately $368,000 has been raised to pay for the furniture in the convocation center offices. There is currently an “ask” on the table for $250,000 for enhancement to the baseball facility, endowments, and scholarships.
IV. Old Business
A. 2002-03 Basketball Complimentary Ticket Policy
Brian Scholle made a motion to approve the 2002-03 basketball complimentary ticket policy. Paul Bauer seconded the motion.
Beth Calder began discussion by saying that the changes from last year’s policy come from increases necessary to provide tickets for team managers and student trainers and an increase in the number of cheerleaders and graduate assistants. The administration numbers were increased to cover the addition of the major gifts officer who had requested tickets for football so Beth automatically included him for basketball. Beth also increased support staff numbers just to make sure everyone is covered.
Cary said that as employees of the University, everyone is taxed on his or her complimentary tickets. We may not distribute all tickets shown here or the coaches may not use all their allotment and though the tickets are allocated, if they don’t get used, employees are not taxed on them. Athletics Department staff members are required to report use of those tickets but the increase in numbers shown is just to clean everything up. She pointed out that another change in the process is that season tickets are no longer provided when charities are seeking donations. We now only provide single game tickets. Paul Bauer asked if everyone receiving tickets is aware of the tax implications. Sheila said each person signed a letter when they received their tickets.
Ron Short asked how this policy compares with other MAC institutions. Cary said we don’t know about their comp policies but would be happy to find that information before next academic year. She went on to say that to be in the lower bowl, the person must be a donor. Otherwise, seat locations are in the upper bowl.
Having no further discussion, the motion was carried unanimously.
B. Title IX Survey
Gip stated that one of the committee charges has focused on our need to do a survey of interest. The survey instrument is completed but we need to get it administered. The gender equity committee will be responsible for getting this done.
V. New Business
A. Title IX Commission Update
Cary Groth began her report by distributing a copy of the Commission’s charter. The purpose and function of the commission is to have four open hearings across the country and to listen to feedback on what is happening out there with Title IX. After all the hearings, there are seven questions U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige would like to have answered in the form of a report which will be presented to him in January.
The first hearings were in August. Last month’s in Chicago were very balanced and in November, Cary will travel to Colorado Springs. The Chicago meetings focused more on high school and junior colleges’ endorsement of Title IX.
Cary stated that the commissioners have not discussed at all what their feelings are about Title IX and will not to do so until it comes to writing the report. It is a great law for males and females; however, Title IX has become a scapegoat for dropping men’s programs. The bottom line is to decide what is happening with college and university resources, how are they being allocated, why are programs being dropped, and how to stop the blight of programs. It will be a challenge to come up with recommendations to enhance the efficiency of Title IX and finances will have to be dealt with. We need to help athletics directors, presidents, and institutions understand this law because spending has gone overboard.
Another point brought up is that different districts enforce Title IX differently and it is very subjective. Consistency would definitely help in that area.
B. Marketing and Promotions Update
Scott Lowenberg, assistant athletics director for marketing and promotions, began discussion by saying that ticket sales are up. Sales for walk-up tickets for football are up dramatically. Sales of basketball season tickets have more than doubled. Football attendance has been averaging around 20,000 but Cary emphasized that those are not audited numbers.
Some of the things we are doing for football this year include enhancing the whole atmosphere surrounding the game. For example, we have had fireworks twice this year, we select the Culver’s Craziest Fan and put their photo on the videoboard. The marketing and promotions unit met with other departmental units last spring to discuss football and develop a marketing plan. Everything put in the plan is right on track.
The Huskie Sports Radio Network this year is the best ever and provides great coverage and includes stations from Freeport, Rockford, Rochelle, and Chicago. Games can also be heard over the internet. We have had great television coverage through Fox Sports Net Chicago.
Steve Ekhoff, director of promotions, has done a great job this year and especially in getting the west suburban youth football league members to attend games.
The Bowling Green football game will be shown tape delay on Fox Sports Net Chicago. However, it will be shown live in the east regions. The men’s basketball games versus DePaul and Ohio University will be broadcast.
Scott went on to say that sponsorships are up. The convocation center has rights to the scoreboard and signage in the arena but Scott sells the field signage. We are currently a bit above $60,000 sold in sponsorships but he hopes to increase that in the next few years.
The Bowling Green game will be a good test for us and should show us what we can realistically expect at NIU in the future.
Scott clarified that Steve Ekhoff’s priorities are football and licensing. Cameron Edwards is responsible for basketball and the Pup Club. She has taken on responsibility for basketball almost totally herself.
Steve said he has reviewed past marketing plans and did utilize direct mail this year which targeted alums and past ticket purchasers. From that information, Steve will generate a database. Direct mail is more effective than broadcast TV ads because you cannot control what time they are aired. With the money saved from not purchasing TV ads, Steve has been able to purchase ads in suburban papers such as the Daily Herald, the Aurora Beacon News, and the Naperville Sun. We want to target alums in that area with disposable income and also to create awareness of NIU. The youth football league promotion brought out over 2,000 kids.
At this Saturday’s game, we will be giving beads away to the first 5,000 students. There are going to be close to 40 tents and are still getting requests for them. Some of the promotions we will be running will be the TCF savings bond giveaway to a season ticket holder in the west stands. That promotion will continue for the basketball season.
Another focus for Steve is the licensing program. He suggested that if Board members have not been out to WalMart, they have committed an entire section for NIU apparel. To date, they have sold approximately 2,500 pieces since August and have ordered 2,000 more for the spring. On Sunday, November 3, marketing staff members and some of our football players will be at WalMart selling tickets for the November 9 football game. Steve does not have licensing numbers for basketball yet. Sheila Berg added that we received only $35,000 in licensing revenue last year and $17,000 the previous year. Steve said that the new logo has been very well received.
Gip said one of issue people have always looked at is student attendance. Steve said the student support this year has been phenomenal. Cary added that the residence halls have also shown great support for Athletics this year and that Michael Coakley, the executive director of student housing and dining services, has been instrumental in that support. He has charged the CAs with taking their entire floor to the first football game. Steve said we will also utilize campus cable Channel 8 and the message center at Barsema Hall to get our information out. In response to a question as to whether schedule cards are out in the community, Scott said he and Steve have personally delivered them this year.
Ray Dembinski said that he had recently seen an article in the Northern Star regarding homecoming and tradition. There was a different climate years ago and now the Northern Star has changed its perspective about Athletics completely. We want the alums to see that the climate here has changed.
Cary pointed out that attendance is important for the upcoming football games because of the possibility that bowl scouts will be in attendance at those games. We need to make a good impression.
Beth Calder then reported on the opening of the Athletic Ticket Corner at the Student Center. She hopes it becomes very popular. Students can get guest passes and information about all upcoming sporting events there.
Scott then asked Cameron Edwards to report on basketball marketing plans. Cameron began by presenting an overview of the plans. The opening of the Convocation Center and the “Big Weekend” are priorities. Friday evening, November 22, women’s basketball opens against the University of Wisconsin. On Saturday morning at 11:35, football hosts Toledo, and at 5:35 p.m., men’s basketball hosts DePaul. It is Cameron’s intent for a whole new atmosphere to be created at the convocation center. Dog Pound will be very important this year. Student involvement will very much increase. Steve Ekhoff added that cheerleader involvement will be dramatically increased as well because the increased space will allow them to be more involved.
Cary said we have had good marketing people in place before but this current team is doing such a great job. They are working hard to make it a fun environment and we appreciate their efforts.
Gip then said that last year it was said that people would come to events when it was fun. A public relations committee was developed on the board last year to see what it could do to help with Scott Lowenberg’s efforts. Steve Ekhoff said he will be developing a way to get to faculty and staff to let them know it is a fun atmosphere here and that their support is appreciated. He pointed out that an athletics event is basically a three-hour infomercial for the institution, not just athletics. Gip then asked if a committee from this board would be useful. It was agreed that Athletics marketing and promotions could use the Board’s help.
Earl Hansen said the banners that used to be hung from the lightposts on campus would be useful now. He would be willing to help get the word out about hanging those banners. He also pointed out that you don’t see a great deal of information on campus about athletics events. He also suggested that flyers be posted all over campus with that information so it is out there. Gip added that PAWS’ involvement would also be good in this effort.
Steve Ekhoff met with a representative from the city and they went around town to work on getting signage up publicizing events. Ray Tourville then asked if the words to the alma mater could be posted on the scoreboard. Cary said this will be done for the October 19 game. Gip said the Board will be seeing more and more requests from Marketing and Promotions to do some comp tickets and will request flexibility to do some other things. Earl then asked if anything has been done on the satellite campuses to let them know about events on this campus. Cary said there is regular contact with all three campuses. Magnets were made which included the ticket information and Bob Burk (Admissions) got several thousand to give his counselors to take on their school visits. Cary said the external affairs unit is working hard to get our information out as much as possible.
In conjunction with discussion about committees, Gip circulated a list and asked Board members to sign up for committees and encouraged them to sign up for more than one. Once the list is finished, he will distribute committee assignments.
Ray Dembinski then reported that he had seen in the paper that Cedric Dempsey is stepping down in December as president of the NCAA and that Myles Brand, president at Indiana University, is taking over that spot. His taking over will have an effect on the discussion of academics, the “arms race,” money, football compliance, etc. Cary said at the Division 1A meetings in Dallas, they are taking the position to recommend that the NCAA governance structure go to an annualized legislative period. We hope to see some changes as it relates to Division 1.
C. Facilities Planning
Gip reported that due to the time constraints today, we will address facilities planning at the November meeting.
Cary did say that we are going to be looking at the possibility of building a Student-Athlete Development Center and practice facility at the north endzone of the stadium. She said she would update the Board as to what the priorities are for that facility. Anything done facility-wise must come from external funding.
Dr. Wheeler said he has heard that the track is being installed at the Convocation Center and asked if that is true. Cary said it is. Ron Short then asked if it is a usable track. Cary responded that aside from having only six lanes, it is usable. We also are in need of an indoor home for baseball, softball, golf, and track for the winter but we are working on it. Gip added that the facilities committee could work on this issue.
He went on to say that Janaan and he will put the committee list together and he will then get in touch with individual committees to set up their initial meeting with Gip and a liaison from the Athletics Department to discuss what is the best way to move the committee forward. We need to secure someone to work with the liaison. Committees will be confirmed over the next few weeks and then all will be clear about where we are going and what to expect from the committees. Gip will e-mail the committees with their initial charges and establishing that first meeting.
D. 2002-03 Basketball Promotional Pricing
Earl Hansen made a motion to approve the 2002-03 basketball promotional pricing as presented. Nestor Osorio seconded the motion.
Cameron Edwards began discussion by explaining that Athletics is trying to bring people back to the games who do not live in the immediate area. This year’s men’s basketball schedule includes nine Saturday games and women’s basketball has six Saturday games.
Brian Scholle asked what promotions are planned to reach outside this area. Cameron said information is being provided to former season ticket holders and will also be on the athletics website.
Beth went on to say that there had been a Wild Card promotion (pick the games you want to attend) some years ago and the suburban alums have requested this type of ticket package be made available again. It is easier for them to attend games and also it is a reasonable price. Steve Ekhoff said it is also possible that a mailing to alums who are not season ticket holders could also be done.
Earl Hansen asked about the demographics of our ticket holders. Cary said they are people who live mostly in this area (DeKalb/Sycamore/Rochelle) but we want to expand beyond that area. We are going to do some outreach with various target markets.
Having no further discussion, the motion was carried unanimously.
Ray Tourville made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Ken Olson seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
The next meeting of the Athletic Board will be on Wednesday, November 20, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. in Holmes Student Center Room #506 (please note the change in room location). The executive committee will meet on Wednesday, November 6, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. in the administration conference room in Convocation Center #200.