UW Football Program Faces Critical Attendance Challenge

June 3, 2004


In response to the NCAA's new attendance mandate for Division 1-A football programs, the University of Wyoming's Athletics Department has formed a committee to address the issue head on. Project 20K committee members held their first organizational meeting this past January and immediately established a game plan for not only meeting, but exceeding the attendance requirement.

"I knew we had assembled the right group of committee members when we decided right out of the gate that our attendance target needed a significant boost," said Associate Athletics Director and Project 20K Chairman Kent Noble. "Everyone on this committee is determined that the University of Wyoming will keep its Division 1-A status for football."

As of August 2004, the NCAA has mandated that all Division I-A football members meet the following criteria:

* Hand out at least 90% (or 76.5) of the 85 football scholarships allotted to major-college programs in a given season.
* Sponsor a minimum of 16 sports overall, including at least six men's and eight women's sports.
* Offer at least 200 scholarships, or spend at least $4 million on scholarships, in those sports.
* Play at least five regular-season home games vs. I-A schools each season.
* Average no less than 15,000 in actual - not merely paid - home football attendance.

Source: NCAA

While UW meets or exceeds the first four directives, there have been years where the University has fallen short of the average attendance requirement, including the last two years.

"I'm confident we would have surpassed the 15,000 mark in 2003 had we not had three home games scheduled in November," said Noble. "That was only the second time in our history that we've had that situation. Prior to the last two games we were averaging over 19,000 fans--however, as we all know, in Wyoming you can have bad weather any time of the year. With this new attendance requirement, we really need our fans to turnout in force when the weather permits just in case we have bad conditions for a game or two. It would be a real shame to lose our Division 1-A status due to poor weather."

While the NCAA still hasn't spelled out the consequences for programs that fall short of the attendance requirement, the proposal currently on the table states that schools will be placed on "restricted membership" for a year, barred from appearing in a bowl and then bounced from Division I-A if the school falls short for a second consecutive year.

To address the attendance issue, Project 20K committee members have come up with the following four-pronged strategy:

1. A comprehensive multimedia campaign will be designed and implemented in order to educate UW fans and students regarding the NCAA's new minimum attendance requirements.
2. The fan's game day experience will be improved. The goal is to make War Memorial Stadium "the place to be" on Saturday afternoons.
3. A season ticket program (i.e. a clearinghouse) will be created for fans that want to support Wyoming Football but are unable to attend games due to their place of residency and/or circumstances. Concurrently, a group of recipients will be organized in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
4. More effective marketing of season and single-game ticket packages.

What can you do to help? Whether or not you live in Wyoming, you can help UW maintain its Division 1-A status for football through one of the following means:

* Purchase season or single-game tickets and get to War Memorial Stadium as often as you can - Your presence in the stadium not only gives the Pokes a huge advantage, it is a critical part of the Project 20K effort.
* Participate in the Cowboys for Kids campaign - This program is designed to bring underprivileged Wyoming youth to Cowboy football games. Children participating in this program will be involved with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Youth Crisis Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Wyoming and other child enrichment programs. For every ticket purchased for this purpose, the Wyoming Athletics Department will match your contribution on a ticket-for-ticket basis. Needless to say, this is a great way to support children in need, as well as the Project 20K program.

To assist fans that may want to participate in one or both of these ventures, the Wyoming Athletics Department has purchased a software package that provides the online convenience of secured ticket purchases 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Purchase your 2004 tickets online here or you can call the ticket office toll free at 800-922-9461 or 766-4850 in Laramie.

Project 20K Committee Members:

Jim Angell, Wyoming Press AssociationDan Baker, Human Resources Manager, RAG Coal WestGary Barta, UW Director of Intercollegiate AthleticsBrett Befus, President, Wyoming Collegiate Athletic CouncilDon Black, Publisher, Laramie Daily BoomerangTom Bogan, Director of Recreation, City of CheyenneWayne Bress, Owner, Modern PrintingJim Bunch, District Manager, Black Hills PowerBarbara Burke, UW Senior Associate Athletics DirectorP.J. Burns, Executive Director, Laramie Chamber of CommerceJonathan Despain, Wyoming 4-H State Director/CoordinatorKevin Erbe, Colorado-based UW Alumni Association Board MemberLinda Finnerty, Marketing Director, Clear ChannelJay Fromkin, UW Director of Public RelationsKeith Geis, President & COO, Platte Valley National Bank in WheatlandDan Haley, UW Alumni Association Board of DirectorsVena Hartman, General Manager, Cheyenne Frontier MallJim Hawks, Sales Manager, KTWO TelevisionDan Hawley, UW Development OfficerJohn Hursh, Attorney, Central Wyoming Law AssociatesSusan Kellogg, Sales Manager, Comcast CableBill Luzmoor, Owner, Big Thicket BroadcastingToby Marlatt, Director of Marketing, UW Outreach SchoolMary McGinty, ASUW, Vice PresidentKevin McKinney, UW Sports Information DirectorDave Montgomery, President, Montgomery BroadcastingKent Noble, UW Associate AD for External AffairsStephanie Olson, Regional Director of National AmbassadorsAmy Potter, Sales Rep, Comcast CableTim Ray, Sports Director, Clear ChannelBill Sniffin, Author and newspaper ownerJohn Stark, UW Associate AD for DevelopmentMatt Whisenant, UW Assistant AD for ComplianceMatt Wildt, UW Assistant AD & Ticket ManagerKimberly Wilkerson, Outreach Specialist, Big Brothers Big SistersShaun Ziegler, UW Licensing & Trademark