Straight From The Hart - A Weekly Column From Rick Hart
June 7, 2013
We made progress on a number of initiatives this week, including some much-needed office work. Had an opportunity to interact with coaches, staff, donors, alumni, strategic partners, former student-athletes and campus colleagues as well. This is a very productive and important time for us. We are busy, but a different kind of busy. It's a nice change of pace.
A quick note of praise for the six SMU programs that were perfect in the latest round of NCAA APR scores - men's and women's golf, men's and women's swimming, women's tennis and volleyball. Truly a great job by our student-athletes, coaches and support staff! All of our teams met the NCAA requirements, and more information on the scores are available here.
The questions were flowing this week, so I'll get right to the mailbag and provide some updates on the issues that are most important to you...
Michael (Dallas): I enjoyed the update on the Mustang Club, but how are revenues looking with our corporate sponsors? What work is being done to improve this?
Answer: We enjoyed it, too, Michael! We are fortunate to receive strong support from our donor base - private gifts to SMU Athletics far exceed industry standards (as a percentage of overall annual revenues). Several other areas, however, are well below those standards. Ticket sales, licensing and sponsorship revenues are among our primary growth opportunities.
In ticketing, we have a great partner in the Legends Group. Their team helped us achieve record season ticket sales in football last year, and we are beginning to see increased interest in some of our new ticket packages and group sales. As I shared previously, we are making significant investments in marketing, promotions, game operations and video production. We want Ford Stadium and Moody Coliseum to be "THE" place to be on game day.
We have also conducted a comprehensive assessment of licensing (branding, merchandising), sponsorships and multi-media rights. We are currently in the process of finalizing our approach in these areas and should have additional details to share later this summer.
We believe all of these areas are important to our success and present our department with opportunities to broaden our fan base, generate additional resources and more meaningfully engage the Dallas community. We appreciate the generosity of our donors, but are aware that we must proactively pursue other revenue opportunities as well.
Phillip (Houston): What networks will the football games be seen on? In the last couple of years, some appeared on a Dallas Time Warner channel that was not available outside of Dallas. What about basketball games?
Answer: The television partnership with ESPN/CBS will provide SMU (and other schools in The American) with unprecedented national coverage. More information on our TV agreements can be found here, but some highlights are:
We will open the football season on ESPN on Friday, August 30 - with very little viewing competition. It will be important to have a stadium full of rowdy fans to showcase SMU football to the nation. More broadcast information will be released in the near future, but you'll be able to follow us - and seeing that you're from Houston, I'll expect to see you when we play UH on Nov. 29.
Andy (Dallas): Can you tell us a little about the new tennis facility? Will it be indoor/outdoor and what is the timeline on its construction? Also we're still hoping for the indoor football facility :)
Answer: The tennis complex, which is scheduled to get underway this month, will be among the best in the country. It will include six indoor and six outdoor courts along with seating, locker rooms, meeting space and premium areas. You can take a look at the renderings here. The project should take about 14 months (give or take) once it gets started. This facility will be an exciting addition for our tennis programs and help to create an impressive gateway to campus (along with the Residential Commons to the north) as vehicles enter via Mockingbird at Central Expressway.
An indoor performance center has been targeted for inclusion in the university's updated master plan for 2015 and beyond. Preliminary work has already been conducted to identify potential sites and the relocation of other facilities. The IPC would be a transformative project and positively impact track and field, football, men's and women's soccer and potentially others programs. (See my column from April, 26, 2013 for more on this project.)
Tyler (Kouts, Ind.): Two part question: 1) Once the Moody Coliseum renovation is completed, what will the capacity be? And what was the capacity before the renovation? 2) I know Tim Jankovich is the coach in waiting. When the time comes for him to take over, is the plan to have him be the head coach for the long term to provide stability to the program?
Answer: Another multiple-part question. I see a trend developing...
Capacity in Moody will be right around 7,000. This is a good size for us. In time, it is our hope that demand will exceed supply for most games. I can't wait to hear how loud it is in there when we open in front of an overflow crowd in January. Give me chills just thinking about it!
Coach Jankovich is our coach-in-waiting. When Coach Brown's time at SMU ends, he will become the head coach. We are lucky to have him here. Other schools have already tried to lure him away, but he is passionate about our university and community and believes (as we all do) that Mustang basketball can consistently compete with the top programs in the country. Chill bumps - again!
Please keep your questions coming. Your input is important to me. Remember, if you have a question or concern, contact me through this form, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach me on Twitter at @AD_RickHart.
Thanks to all and Pony Up!
Rick Hart, Director of Athletics