Presented 11/19/03
         Approved 11/19/03
Athletic Board
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Holmes Student Center Room #406, 1:00 pm

Present:  Terry Bishop (Chair), TJ Lusher, Paul Bauer, Jan Rintala, Dave LaCerra, Josephine Umoren, Malcolm Morris, Gip Seaver, Bob Beatty, Ken Davidson, Ray Tourville, Cue Kadkhodaian, Craig Marcus

Guests:  Stacy Allie, Assistant Athletics Director; Sheila Berg, Athletics Business Manager; Robert Collins, Associate Athletics Director; Mike Rockovich, Athletics Ticket Manager.

I.     Call to Order – Terry Bishop

II.    Approval of September 17, 2003 Meeting Minutes

Jan Rintala made a motion to approve the September 17, 2003, meeting minutes.  Ray Tourville seconded the motion.

The secretary asked Terry Bishop for clarification on page 3, letter “E”, first paragraph.   Terry asked the secretary to delete the word “Pepsi” and make the sentence read, “…as it relates to Intercollegiate Athletics and the community.”

Having no other corrections, additions or deletions, the motion was carried unanimously.

III.  Introduction of Mike Rockovich, Athletics Ticket Manager

Stacy Allie began by introducing Mike and explained that his is a unique background.   He was the business manager at James Madison University which provides Athletics with the accounting skills necessary for his position.  Prior to that, Mike was the ticket manager at East Tennessee State.  The skills he brings to the position help Athletics with the increased sales.

Mike then said he is originally from Ohio.  He first worked at Lehigh in the ticket office.  He then went to Rollins where he was the assistant athletics director.  Mike then went to East Tennessee State and was both the business manager and the ticket manager.  From East Tennessee State, he went to James Madison
University to be strictly the business manager.  Mike came to Northern this past August and feels at home here.

When Mike began on August 5, three weeks before the Maryland game, and the ticketing computer system was completely new to both him and the ticket office staff.  An account tech has now been hired for the office.

Mike went on to explain that the Ticketmaster ticketing system is the premier ticketing system in the country.  Many of the professional teams use the same system.  Mike feels that the ticket office staff has only hit the tip of the iceberg with the system.  Patrons are able to purchase tickets directly from the system and need never contact the DeKalb office.  Another feature is that when a patron orders tickets online, when they come to the Stadium, the ticket seller swipes their credit card and the ticket prints out right there.  The system is tremendous but will take at least one whole year to completely learn.  Things should run much more smoothly next year.

The biggest challenge this year is the student ticketing situation.  There have been some negative articles in the paper.  At the Maryland game, for example, the over-demand for the east side resulted in Athletics’ decision to block off 6,000 tickets for the students and then let them know that they needed to pick them up the week of the game.  Some students complained about having to pick the tickets up at the convocation Center.  They are getting used to the changes that have been put in place.  A space has been opened at the Student Center as a ticket outlet.

Mike is still working on learning who everyone is on campus, their roles, etc.  But he does feel very confident that next year will go more smoothly.   Mike then opened the floor to questions.

Josephine Umoren mentioned that she stood in line at the Maryland game for 2-1/2 hours to purchase tickets.  Stacy said the new ticketing system has really helped alleviate a great number of phone calls to the ticket office.  But, at the same time, when patrons enter the stadium, their tickets get scanned.  This takes a little bit of time but we encourage people to buy season tickets in the future.

Dave LaCerra asked if the “800” number is still in operation in Athletics.  Stacy responded that it is still in operation but it is easier for patrons to contact Ticketmaster directly.

Mike Rockovich went on to say that the scanning system is also new this year.  It provides information in many ways.  Athletics can catch counterfeit tickets, get data on how many people are physically in the Stadium at any given time, etc.  Stacy added that ticket takers have stopped patrons at several games trying to use tickets for different games.  The scanner really helps speed up the process of getting into the Stadium.

Gip Seaver then said an issue that has been pointed out to him is that when people get to the Stadium and go to their seats, other people are in their seats and the ticket holders can get no help from security in the stands.  He also relayed a story of some young people who were in the east stands who had problems with their seats, could get no assistance from security, and ended up calling their parents to come pick them up and take them home.  Stacy Allie responded that there are no assigned seats on the east side.  Students really like that but it creates confusion when there are seat numbers on the ticket but it is general admission.  That comes from Ticketmaster.  The issue is that the patron thinks they have a seat and, again, they’re holding general admission tickets.  It is also problematic when security is not there to help.  Stacy said she would bring this issue up to the games management and facilities staff.  Athletics has been hiring student groups to work so it is not the same students working security every game.  Athletics does meet with every student organization and they walk through the Stadium to show them where they need to be stationed.  She added that if patrons cannot get help from security, they can always go to the ticket booths.  The workers have walkie-talkies and can request assistance.  The majority of patrons may just not know that.

Bob Beatty said it happened at the Iowa State game.  It may just be that the student workers need extensive training.  They may feel uncomfortable asking fellow students to move out of their seats.

Paul Bauer said he is on the east side with the band and pointed out that security has gotten better as the games go on.  He added that if the east side tickets have
seat numbers on them, it would be confusing.  Paul asked how the general public knows that the number printed on the ticket doesn’t mean anything.  Stacy said if we continue to keep the east side for general admission, Athletics is looking into whether the computer system can not print the seat number on the ticket.

IV.    Committee Reports

        A.     Budget

Ray Tourville said that the basketball ticket prices and the fourth quarter report will be acted on at today’s meeting.  The committee will be meeting again in the near future.

        B.     Equity/Diversity

TJ Lusher reported that she is working with Dee Abrahamson to develop a charge for the committee.

Before moving forward, Terry said the Board will be revising the policies and procedures manual significantly this year.  Some of the basic operating assumptions will be intact but the committee structure has already modified from what is in the manual.  Terry went on to say that Malcolm Morris asked for clarification of the  goal for his committee and will move to define their charge.  Terry has worked with Cary Groth on developing a charter for the Student Welfare/Academics committee.  They will do this for the other committees, with the exception of the budget committee.

Jan Rintala said since the Board answers to the University Council, it should look at the Committees of the University and also the University’s Constitution and Bylaws.  Terry agreed that the Board will certainly do that.

        C.     Student Welfare/Academics

Malcolm Morris began by saying last year, Kim Judson, from the Marketing department, began a study at NIU based on her Ph.d. work from the University of Illinois about student satisfaction based on criteria for choosing the school to which they ultimately went.  This year, she will be doing a study on whether the students are happy based on their criteria.  The Student Welfare/Academics committee will follow up on that survey.  Kim will be meeting with the committee and providing an update.  She indicated that she would have the report ready in January.

        D.     External Relations

Tekla Martin reported that the committee has not yet formally met.  She has put together six topics for the committee’s consideration.  These are things the committee could look to improve or seek input on.  Tekla would like the Board to submit any additional topics it feels the committee should work on, find answers to, enhance, etc.

Paul Bauer asked if the second item, Image of Huskie Athletics in DeKalb/Sycamore area, includes the NIU campus.  Tekla said that it does.  Jan Rintala said a large part of the committee’s work would involve myth-breaking.  She and Cary will be meeting next month to discuss some of these items.  At the faculty athletics representative meetings in Dallas, they talked about the role of the faculty athletics representative and communication with the faculty.  Perhaps both groups should be tied together to work on this.  The faculty athletics representatives could possible issue a monthly or bi-monthly report to the Faculty Senate.  For example, it has recently been announced that the NIU women’s basketball program is 15th in the nation in terms of team GPA.  If we could perhaps find a way to communicate back to the constituent groups, it would be good.

Paul Bauer went on to say working on “even bigger picture” items would be good.  In the current climate of reported budget cuts, people are resentful that their departments don’t have the resources and may be resentful of successful programs.   There were approximately 2500 people on campus for open house on
October 13 which was a nearly 50% increase.  It was suggested that at least some of this increase could be directly attributed to the success and enhanced visibility of the football program this fall.  Athletics does have a positive impact on the university community.  The committee has a great deal of potential in examining
those issues and also making suggestions and serving as a resource to the Athletics administration.

V.     Faculty Athletics Representative

        1.     Division 1A meetings

Because Cary Groth is off campus today, Terry said she will report on her insights about the D1A meetings at another Board meeting.

Jan Rintala stated that Dell Robinson, the Mid-American Compliance liaison, will be on campus at the end of this month.  It is just an annual check-up to see that we are doing fine, monitoring things properly, etc.  If anything is identified, Jan will share it with the Board.

The Division 1A meetings have traditionally been for the athletics directors only and other individuals they have been asked to invite.  Three or four years ago, they added the faculty athletics representatives.  The feeling was that the athletics directors and faculty athletics representative should be communicating. Several joint meetings were held as were separate meetings of the faculty athletics representatives, the athletics directors, and the student-athlete support services representatives in attendance.  NIU’s SASS program was identified as a “Program of Merit” or fourth in the country.

Jan went on to report that a few key pieces of legislation were discussed at the meeting.  There is a new way decisions are made at the NCAA, primarily through the presidents commissions, rather than a single institutional vote.  One topic is the possibility of adding another full-time coach in football.  It seems to be a cost issue that the athletics directors may not be supporting.

There were are series of proposals which the NCAA is developing to deal with student financial aid and when athletes can receive aid other than athletics-related aid.  The NCAA would like to allow athletes who are on athletics aid to accept other monies up to the full cost of attendance. There is an attempt to clarify the number of hours put in if you are a multi-sport athletes.  The NCAA wants to maintain the 20 hours per week rule even if you are participating in a number of sports.

It is now permissible for athletics to pay for any medical expenses related to athlete injuries.  Athletics could pay for anything to restore athletes to play.

The NCAA has gotten rid of the NCAA certification process.

Jan asked Robert Collins to clarify that there is a 12th game in football every third season.  Robert said it depends on the calendar.  NIU happens to have back-to-back seasons where this is the case.  Jan went on to say that the motion was to make the 12th game permanent; however, the faculty athletics representatives are unlikely to support that.  Robert added that from NIU’s perspective, Joe Novak wouldn’t mind going to that but it impacts the scholarships. Robert speculated that the coaches would want to see the number of scholarships increase as a condition of moving to a 12 game schedule.  Robert said he would be opposed to a 12-game season because of injuries and the length of season.  Jan said the coaches are also looking to tie in a fifth year of eligibility.

Stacy Allie then presented a report from the athletics directors’ meetings.  The Vanderbilt chancellor announced that he was eliminating the athletics director’s position there.  Now the entire athletics department reports to different vice-chancellors on campus.  No single voice is left there.  It is a big concern for athletics.  It seems to be an insult to the athletics director’s position.  Athletics directors at the Division 1A meetings were considering writing a letter about what an athletics director does, what his or her responsibilities are, philosophies, etc.  Terry said the chancellor’s logic there was that their athletics department had been set away from the mainstream of campus.  NIU has done a very good job considering the broader institutional context.  Athletics here has not been run independent of the university.  Gip added that Athletics here is at the same level as everyone else.

Stacy went on to say that another topic was a panel discussion presented by a group of TV executives from CBS, ABS, Fox, and ESPN.  She stated it was difficult to listen to them talk about the BCS issue.  They asserted that television stations won’t be interested if they are forced to cover other sports programs.  It may cause a shift from network to cable television.  Terry said he would ask Cary to provide further input at the next Board meeting.

Gip asked if there was any concern over the 40/60/80% rule.  Jan Rintala said it seemed to be taken for granted.  Myles Brand said he is very committed to getting athletes graduated.  She said it will be interesting to look at retention and graduation rates.  It may be tied to post-season eligibility and numbers of grants-in-aid available.  If that comes to pass, it will actually push graduation rates.

VI.     Old Business

        A.     FY03 Fourth Quarter Report

Malcolm Morris made a motion to approve the FY03 fourth quarter report.  Jan Rintala seconded the motion.

Having no discussion or questions, the motion was carried unanimously.

        B.     Revised FY04 Basketball Ticket Prices

Stacy Allie said these ticket prices were approved previously but it is necessary to present group prices for action.

Paul Bauer made a motion to approve the revised FY04 basketball ticket prices.  Jan Rintala seconded the motion.

Having no discussion or questions, the motion carried unanimously.

Stacy said she will also come back to the Board with something Marketing and Promotions is working on.  They are working with the Ticket Office to create some different ticket packages such as a weekend pack.  They are also looking at the student guest pass issue as it relates to feasibility, location of seats, etc.  The information will go to the budget subcommittee first.
 
VII.     New Business

Before beginning New Business, Terry said Jan had asked him to remind everyone that they had gotten an e-mail asking the Athletic Board to review the NCA reaccreditation report.  Special attention is paid to student-athlete support services and intercollegiate athletics.  There is an opportunity to review the report and forward any input the Board may have.

Malcolm asked if the sections dealing with SASS and Athletics could be mailed separately.  It was decided that it would be possible to do.  Janaan Mickey will e-mail the information to the Board.

        A.     Sportslike Conduct

In Cary’s absence, Robert Collins presented a report on sportslike conduct.  In February, 2003, 150 representatives from intercollegiate athletics and higher education and other key groups met in Dallas to discuss sportsmanship and fan behavior.  The focus was on three issues:

Robert said he would like to think that Northern Illinois University has been proactive.  Recently there was an article in the Northern Star about issues we face or things our fans, families and visitors faced at NIU.  Last year, Bowling Green fans were in a parking lot they should not have been in and were treated poorly.  With winning comes excitement that can be negative.  We need to curtail that.  We need to change the attitude here.  At Alabama this year, their fans were the first to congratulate the team and acknowledged that NIU was a well-coached and well-disciplined team. Athletics has done a pretty good job of keeping fans off the field after the game.

Because of our security and the structure of the stadium, both have helped keep people off the field.  This year, Athletics has had a video shown on the video board which has gone a long way to helping with the issue.  That way, students hear it from their peers, the president, the athletics director, etc.

One thing that might impact the situation is tickets.  If Athletics hosts the MAC championship game, students would not have the section for seating they are used to having.  It would be for sale to the visiting team’s fans.  Robert went on to say that the MAC may mandate moving the student section or our team to the other side of the field.  That will be a challenge for ticketing.  There is some pressure coming from the MAC.

Robert distributed a packet of information from the NCAA.  It is very interesting reading.  He also asked if Board members have suggestions or thoughts about this issue, please e-mail them to him, Cary Groth or any others in the department.

Bob Beatty asked if security increased from the first game and cited patrons being searched at the entrances.  Robert said that was begun last year.  Bob then said at the last home game, as he was coming out of the west stands, security would not allow patrons to use the north ramp.  Robert said the post-game press conference is held in that location and security needs to keep the ramp clear.  Bob said it was very backed up.  Terry added that if Athletics could avoid closing any of the exits, that would good.  His experience at the last home game was that people from behind were beginning to push and it was a frightening experience, especially for people who have children with them.  There must be a better location for the press conference than that which requires funneling people out of one area.  Bob really urges that policy be revisited.  Ken Davidson said foreseeability is now on the record and it needs to be addressed.

Paul Bauer said adding to the difficulty is that people know they came in that way and should be able to go out that way, too.  Bob said the difference is that everyone now stays until the game ends.  Paul said perhaps signage, announcements, or making sure the ushers know what is happening would be helpful.  Robert said Athletics is doing the best it can but it is a different situation now.  Gip said there is no question about the good job Athletics is doing.

Gip asked what the reaction of the coach would be to moving the team to the east side.  Robert said Joe Novak would have no problem with that.  Gip said it would be good to have the team’s fans sitting behind it.

Stacy Allie said there is some sensitivity with the seating issue.  Students are our customers, too.  Athletics may not have a choice, though.  Terry said as Athletics moves toward selling assigned seats on the east side, perhaps the lower rows should be assigned.  That way, Athletics would have an easier means of identifying people who might cause problems.

Gip went on to say a point was at the Maryland game when the fans from Maryland said they had been treated well here.  Robert said for the most part, NIU does well but there are always improvements to be made.  Gip then said the “Crazy Fan of the Game” may tend to promote that behavior.

        B.     Sports Illustrated

Terry reported that in the October 13 edition of Sports Illustrated, there is a four-page article on NIU football.

        C.     Huskie Club

Bob Beatty then reported that the Huskie Club is sponsoring lots of events in the next few weeks.   There is a bus trip to Bowling Green for $58 and a bus trip to Toledo for $64, a trip to watch men’s basketball play at Notre Dame and women’s basketball play at Wisconsin.  This Friday is the Hall of Fame induction banquet.  Jane Albright, Sam Bedrosian, Mike Korcek, LeShon Johnson, Donnell Thomas, and Donald Whiteside are this year’s class of inductees.  Robert Collins added that the football game at Bowling Green is going to be nationally televised on ESPN2.
 
VIII.   Adjournment

Paul Bauer made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Gip Seaver seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

The next meeting of the Athletic Board is Wednesday, November 19, 2003, at 1:00 pm in Holmes Student Center room #306.  The executive committee will meet on Wednesday, November 5, 2003, at 1:00 pm in the athletics administration conference room in Convocation Center Room #200.