Straight From The Hart
Aug 23, 2013
These are among my most favorite times of the year. Students are back on campus, bleachers are being power-washed and whistles are blowing. Tonight, we officially begin the 2013-14 home athletics seasons as women's soccer hosts Louisiana-Monroe at Westcott Field at 7 p.m. Head Coach Chris Petrucelli is seeking career win 350 - a feat only 15 coaches in NCAA women's soccer history have achieved.
One week from today, the gridiron Mustangs will kick-off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a SOLD OUT, nationally-televised game at Ford Stadium! (As of this moment, a sell out is anticipated as only 1,750 lawn/GA passes remain available for purchase.) I can hardly wait...
And now, to the mailbag and updates on the issues that are most important to you...
Ronald (Dallas): About 3-5 years ago, the policy was changed where one's donation to the department cannot be spread over the school year for the purchase of football & basketball season tickets. Now, the donation has to be paid in-full at the same time the football season tickets are paid for. Will something be put into the works that bring the system back of paying the donation over the school year?
Also, not all can afford to donate $2,500, $5,000 or more, so what is the athletic department going to do to make the smaller donors feel that they are as important to the department as the big donors and be able to get the same benefits as them?
Answer: As you correctly stated, expenses associated with season tickets and donations tied to premium areas must be paid in-full prior to the mailing of tickets. It is my understanding that donors were permitted to receive premium tickets based upon their pledge amount (vs. a paid amount) several years ago; however, a significant number of outstanding pledges were not collected, and, as a result, the process changed. So, the portion of the Mustang Club donation tied to tickets must be paid in-full upon mailing. Any donation above and beyond the amount required to access premium seating can be paid in installments throughout the fiscal year. As to your question about future changes to this practice, this is a very flexible and reasonable approach as compared to industry standards. We will continue to assess all of our policies to ensure we are providing our loyal supporters with maximum flexibility while appropriately managing risk.
It is our goal for all of our donors to feel valued. Hopefully, the majority of the people and organizations supporting our program are philanthropically motivated to invest in the betterment of our student-athletes. Of course, we recognize that some view this as a transactional exchange - a contribution for premium seats, parking, hospitality, etc.
We do our best to provide a broad array of opportunities to invest in SMU Athletics. Unlike some other programs, we do not require separate donations for access to football and basketball benefits. At SMU, a donation to the Mustang Club creates access to benefits for both football and basketball at that donation level.
The majority of our donors, and the benefits extended to Mustang Club members, reside within $75-500 giving levels. Hospitality benefits are provided to donors beginning at $75 per year (Red & Blue Level), with premium hospitality beginning at $500 per year (Mustang Level). Seating and parking benefits are provided to donors beginning at $150 per year (Colt Level). The belief that "big donors" receive a disproportionate share of the benefits is not accurate.
It is not possible to provide all donors the same benefits. Distribution of premium inventory is a byproduct of supply and demand. Without a tiered structure, we would not be able to maximize revenue opportunities and generate the resources necessary to support a Division I Athletics Department.
Gary (Dallas): In the 2013 spring edition of Texas Football, June Jones stated "The process is in place."
1. Was Coach Jones referring to the recruiting process whereby SMU would be able to recruit all athletes on the same level as every other Div. 1 school already does?
2. Does SMU now have a General Studies Degree for any student at SMU who wants to pursue that degree?
Answer: I do not know the context of Coach Jones' comment, Gary. I do feel that we are positioned to compete for championships in the American Athletic Conference. The value of an SMU education, the quality of our coaches and facilities, location, residential commons, tradition and recent on-field success provide us with valuable assets for recruiting the best students and athletes to our campus.
SMU does not offer a general studies degree - nor are we interested in such a program. In today's competitive job market, it is difficult to find meaningful work without a specialized academic discipline. We are hopeful that a major in Exercise Science and Pedagogy may be added in the near future. A number of our students are interested in pursuing careers in coaching, health and fitness. Such a degree track would provide our student-athletes with the knowledge and skills required to lead a productive and meaningful life.
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.
Go Mustangs and Pony Up!
Rick Hart, Director of Athletics