The Athletic Director's Corner

Aug. 27, 2007

Past Editions

  • Edition 1 (July 3, 2007)

  • Strengthening Butler University Athletics

    A positive student-athlete experience, competitive teams and fiscal sustainability are the three goals of Butler athletics. As Butler's athletic director, I have been charged to increase athletic financial support in order to sustain our programs. At the same time, the costs for operating our sports teams have risen significantly. Additionally, the revenue that we must return to the university continues to rise. Our need to eliminate two sports during the spring semester of 2007 was due to a lack of available funding for the athletic department as a whole. It was with great regret that I faced approximately 40 student-athletes and told them that we could no longer support them or their teams. We are working extremely hard to find a way to avoid repeating that action.

    We currently offer 19 sports at Butler, and we receive the vast majority of our ticket revenue through the sale of men's basketball tickets. This is consistent with the history of Butler athletics and continues to be a focus in the advancement of our funding. The model that has made Butler basketball successful has long included increased funding in order to provide fiscal sustainability.

    It is critical that athletics remain fully integrated into the mission of the university. We can point to tremendous success in this regard by reference to our student-athletes' graduation rates, retention rates, volunteerism and character. Winning is not more important than these values and our philosophy is rock solid. We also believe that we can have excellence both in the classroom and in athletic competition. While it is true that the entire group of our student-athletes has long been successful in the classroom, it is also true that they have not been successful as a group in athletic competition. This has been due to our inability to support them with competitive resources.

    Much of what makes Butler a special place is the willingness of all to pull their weight in pursuing the mission and goals of our university. If enough people are similarly moved, we will not only survive, we will thrive.

    Priority Points System

    Although I am not surprised to find some displeasure and disagreement with the priority points system, I want to assure you that we have received significant support for this new and necessary program. Fifty percent more of our 2006-07 season ticket holders became athletics donors during the six weeks after the announcement of the priority points program. Further, to be clear, there is no requirement to be a donor in order to purchase tickets. Although a mandatory donation is a common "best practice" at many schools (Valparaiso, Xavier, Creighton, etc.) across the country, we have chosen to make donations optional.

    While no donation is required in order to purchase seats in Hinkle, I do realize that based on this new system some season ticket holders (donors and non-donors) could be relocated. However, with 10,000 seats and 1,072 season tickets there is plenty of room for all. Prior to the system's implementation, I received complaints from donors who were not rewarded with preferred seating locations for their donation. The decision to go to this system was made to better serve our student-athletes.

    With respect to our prior season ticket holders and prior athletics donors, we have devised the system to award points for past men's basketball season ticket holders, past athletics donors and current athletics donors. We have asked no one to redirect their donations, nor have we penalized those who have previously redirected their athletics donations to other areas of the university.

    Below is a list of the most pertinent issues that we are attempting to address with the implementation of the Priority Points System:

  • Create an integrated system for four constituencies that are vital to the department - athletics donating season ticket holders who donate to athletics, corporate sponsors, non-athletics donating season ticket holders and single-game ticket holders.
  • Reward those who make charitable contributions to Athletics and creating a culture of consistent giving for those with the passion and the means.
  • Create a culture where season ticket renewals will remain high so that our season ticket base keeps growing.
  • Increase funding for all of our 19 teams and more than 380 student-athletes who will participate in the 2007-08 year and in years to come.

    We are looking at every possible way to make all of our teams as successful as possible on the field of competition, in the classroom and in the community. The Priority Points System will be just one of the new initiatives that we will undertake so that we can better position ourselves for not only championship effort, but for championship results.

    Men's Basketball Tickets

    The new 2007-08 season ticket prices are the first increase since the 2003-04 season. You will note that the base per game ticket price for the lower bowl chair-back seats (84 percent of our season ticket purchases) has gone up from $20 in 2006-07 to $25 in 07-08. This is the same percentage increase made for the 2003-04 season and would reflect a 6 percent increase per year if factored over the previous four years.

    New lower level seat average prices would rank fourth in the Horizon League based on other league members' 2006-07 prices. Butler is one of only three Horizon League institutions to offer a discounted youth ticket (ages 3-12). In addition, children age 2 and under are free. A family of four (with two children ages 3-12) can purchase upper level season tickets for a total of $50 per game.

    As we conducted research to determine our ticket prices for 2007-08, we found that most schools require a donation (Butler does not) for similar seat locations and effectively charge the following for men's basketball:

    LOWER LEVEL RESERVED TICKET PRICES
    Institution Average Price Additional Donations
    Indiana $156.63 includes $2,500 required donation
    Xavier $71.20 includes $675 required donation
    Bradley $62.35 includes $750 required donation
    Dayton $58.95 includes $ 750 required donation
    Creighton $37.78 includes $550 required donation
    Cleveland State $29.33 includes center court required donation
    Valparaiso $28.00 includes required donation
    Wright State $27.71 includes required donation
    St. Louis $26.07 includes required donation
    Butler $25.33 No donation required

    Additional information...
    Purdue: $323 per season ticket + 350 priority points (One point for each $100 contribution to athletics, 50 points for donor membership, two points for each consecutive year of membership, 3 points for each consecutive year for the purchase of football, men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball season tickets.)

    Our season tickets per game average will be:

  • Upper Level Child (3-12) - $9
  • Upper Level Adult - $16
  • Lower Level - $25
  • Courtside - $63

    Listed below are some of the improvements planned for the 2007-08 season:

  • Sound System - The audio system in Hinkle Fieldhouse will receive a major upgrade before the beginning of the 2007-08 basketball season.
  • Concessions - Pepsi, Chick-Fil-A and Domino's will be back at Hinkle Fieldhouse next season along with some new vendors, including Edy's Grand Ice Cream and Starbucks coffee.
  • Seating - We believe that when you purchase a ticket to a Butler Basketball game, you are entitled to a seat. This doesn't sound radical, but do you remember the large number of fans standing during the Southern Illinois game? To ensure a seat for each ticket purchaser, we will number all seats in Hinkle. This will allow us to avoid the "forced" standing by ticket holders when we have large crowds. Additionally, all seats in the upper level of Hinkle Fieldhouse will be widened to create more comfort for our fans.
  • Ticketing - We will increase the number of Ticketmaster selling locations.
  • Hospitality - A new hospitality area in the West Gym will be available for fans who are members of the Ovid Butler Society and/or give at least $250 in charitable gifts to the Athletic Department during the previous or current fiscal year.
  • Merchandise - The Athletic Department has been working extensively with the Butler University Bookstore to provide fans with new options and an easy purchasing experience at the two sales locations in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

    As the price of gas, food, lodging, equipment, supplies, staffing (and everything else under the sun!) has risen in our lives, so too it has risen for the Butler Bulldogs. In order to pay for the increases in costs we must seek additional means of revenue.

    The Butler Way demands commitment, denies selfishness, accepts reality yet seeks improvement every day while putting the team above self. I believe that the changes we are making embody the Butler Way. We are asking all to make a commitment to an improved future. I understand that some will be unwilling or unable to do so. We will be hard at work trying to get great crowds at Hinkle Fieldhouse next year and it is my hope that you are a part of those crowds when the 2007-08 campaign tips off.

    Sincerely,

    Barry Collier