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New IU football coach giving ticket sales a boost

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When new Indiana University football coach Kevin Wilson had an on-air run-in with Fox Sports Radio morning hosts Dominic Zaccagnini and former University of Illinois and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau earlier this month, the IU athletic department braced for the worst.

“We kind of held our breath,” said Mark Skirvin, IU senior assistant athletics director for marketing.

Instead of a backlash, however, the school saw a spike in sales of football season tickets in the wake of the interview, Skirvin said.

The Aug. 11 squabble started with Trudeau poking fun at IU’s football program, which angered Wilson.

"I just don't like being on here with guys cracking jokes about our program," Wilson said in the interview. "I'm not an Indiana alum, but I take a little pride in what we do.''

After the interview on the national radio show was cut short, Trudeau said Wilson came off like "an ass," and said he planned to tell IU higher-ups and anyone else who would listen that the coach was way out of line.

“I think people who support the school appreciated [Wilson’s] stand,” Skirvin said. “After that interview, we definitely saw ticket sales perk up.”

Wilson, who last fall was hired to replace Bill Lynch, is one of the biggest reasons IU’s season ticket sales are far outpacing last year’s sales, Skirvin said. Lynch had a 19-30 record in four years at IU, including a 6-26 Big Ten Conference record.

“We’ve sold 1,500 more season tickets at this time this year than we did at the same point last year,” Skirvin said.

Last year’s season-ticket sales were already at a 13-year high, said IU Athletics Director Fred Glass.

“Our goal is to sell more than 21,000 season tickets, and we’re confident we’ll get there,” Skirvin said.

Wilson, a first-time head coach, represents a significant gamble for IU, which has one of the lowest athletic department budgets in the Big Ten. He’s the first big hire—and the most expensive— for Glass, who became athletic director in 2009.

In December, Wilson signed a seven-year contract that pays him $1.2 million annually, which is significantly more than the $250,000 annually Lynch was paid by IU.

Hiring the former Oklahoma and Northwestern offensive coordinator seems to be paying off in terms of sales.

Last year, IU sold 20,695 season tickets. This year, the school has sold nearly 20,400 with almost two weeks remaining until the Sept. 10 home opener against Virginia.

On-campus sales are fueling much of the rise, with season-ticket sales to students up more than 1,000 over a year ago.

The sales effort has been fueled by an aggressive marketing campaign, which targeted the Indianapolis, Evansville, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Merrillville, Chicago, Louisville and Cincinnati markets, Skirvin said.

IU hopes to use its Sept. 3 opener at Lucas Oil Stadium against Ball State University to further promote its program. The game is considered a Ball State home game.

IU has sold 10,000 tickets allotted to the school for the BSU game, Skirvin said, including 4,000 of the top-priced tickets.

During former IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan’s last year in 2008, IU’s average attendance was 31,700 in the 52,929-seat Memorial Stadium. Average revenue generated per home game that year was $445,933.

In 2009, under Glass, IU football averaged 41,833 fans and $698,936 per home game. Those were high-water marks not seen in Bloomington since the early 1990s, Glass said.

Last year, the Hoosiers averaged 42,991 in attendance and $705,573 in cash generated per game for six home games. IU officials are confident with a home slate that includes Penn State and Purdue, they can surpass that mark this year.

Football is an important revenue generator for NCAA Div. I schools. In most cases, it’s the biggest moneymaker for a school’s athletic program, and those funds are often used to support non-revenue generating sports.

In 2009, the last year for which data is available, IU’s football team generated $21.8 million of the $38.9 million in revenue brought in by all its sports teams. The team’s expenses that same year, were $12.8 million.

IU’s football revenue in Glass’ first year was up $1 million over 2008.

Glass said since many costs of hosting a football game are fixed, every empty seat is a lost opportunity.

“When I look outside my office and see empty seats in that stadium, I see money,” Glass said. “It takes as much for us to throw a party for 21,000 as it does for 52,000.”

 

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  • Go Coach Wilson!
    If you listen to the full audio you can hear the things that Trudeau was commenting about and the jokes he was making. THANK YOU COACH WILSON! I'm glad he stood up for IU and the team. Trudeau was the one being the "ass". You do not make jokes or insult a team, their players or anyone else just before you are to interviewing someone from there. Coach Wilson has shown pride in taking this team under his wing. He doesn't say "they" when talking about the past seasons, he says "we". I'm excited to have him as the head coach and lead our team. I'm excited to seem someone that has as much enthusiasm and passion for this school as I and other fans have. Trudeau was out of line with his comments during that interview and it just gives me that much more respect for Coach Wilson that he wasn't going to sit back and have himself, the players or the program be made as jokes. There have been many close games that IU has played the last few years and big wins as well.
  • Zac/Jack Nit/Wits
    First I heard Zac/Jack's station play "their" version of the interview, which competely left off the intro in which these bush league DJ's ambushed Coach Wilson with very insolent sarcasm pointed at the IU program. Then I heard the entire episode played without strategic editing. Yes, Trudeau is a jerk. For those old enough to remember Howard Cosell he perfectly represented all that Cossel used to rail about regarding ex-jock idiots who were hired as sports broadcasters although they had no journalism credentials and insufficient intelligence to offer insight and clarity to sports analysis. Slightly above average college QB, significantly below average pro QB - what makes this emotional time bomb credible? And, isn't he the dill weed that bought his kids underaged friends alcohol so they would think he was cool? Nice move, jock strap. And who is this Zac dweeb, a little turd that would pee his pants at a chess match weigh-in. Both of you, just go away. Whiny, unprofessional, disrespectful, smarmy - few were listening before the Wilson interview, even less now.
  • sell to many tickets I cant come
    I hope the IU program turns around with Coach Wilson - although if they sell around 50,000 tickets I wont go. It would take me 4 hours pluz to get back to Indinapolis from there. Fred - fix the traffice problems, 37 and 67 in or out take FOREVER and then there is when you get there too. Jsut saying - I can make home from the ND game a bit quicker !!
  • Gunner Kiel
    Brad- Gunner Kiel has signed to play at IU, but isn't there yet. Thus, because he's not on the field, ticket sales wouldn't be higher because of him. Unless, that is, people are excited about the program and its prospects for when he does get to Bloomington.
  • Zaccagnini Sux
    Evidently, you didn't listen that closely, Matt. Yeah Wilson, came in a little ticked, but he was actually in the process of trying to back up a little bit & regroup to save the interview when Trudeau started his nuclear meltdown. I normally like Trudeau's analysis, but he got way out of line & way unproffesional. You just don't go after an interview subject like that. I don't care who they are. And, Zak being the smarmy little snipe he is, just chimed right in & piled on. I wonder if Mike Greenberg is upset he's lost his Whiney Wimp Crown? Thank God, Czabe is back on XL950!
  • Wilson lost it!
    I agree with NoAxToGrind 100 percent. I didn't think Jack did anything wrong. I too listened to the podcast and was very uncomfortable by the way Coach Wilson handled this. I hope for IU's sake Wilson doesn't have an anger management problem. But this coupled with his tirade last year toward a resident assistant in a dorm really makes me worried. And I am an IU alum.
  • Just The Facts...
    I listened to the podcast of this exchange on my computer, and actually re-wound and re-played parts of it. I would recommend anyone wishing to comment do the same. I'm no fan of Jack, nor am I an IU fan. Maybe because of that I missed something subtle, however, I really didn't hear Jack or Dominic say anything that a normal person would find offensive. It fully appeared to me that Coach Wilson lost it for some unknown reason, and Jack and Dominic tried to walk things back to a place of reasonableness, which Coach Wilson wanted no part of. After trying to save the interview, and Coach Wilson wanting no part of it, they let him go, and then I agree -- they certainly took the low road from that point on. Should have assumed that anybody could have a bad day and come out looking like the bigger men. As it happens though, I really don't think Jack was the instigator on that one, whatever you may think of him otherwise.
  • F/U
    Jack Trudeau Career Stats: www.nfl.com/player/jacktrudeau/2503395/careerstats
    There are 3rd string QBs with better records than this. A 63 RTG- maybe history IS important Jack. We all should have seen this coming from you. (The Old Sport, Purdue, 1974)
  • pre-emptive mickeymouse
    Wow. That's rich isnt it. A nobody like Jack T talking about a weak record. What did Jack ever do in sports? Crass. Moronic. Sophamoric. Puzzling since Jack should know about asses- he spent enough time on his own. Evidently he doesnt listen to his own session tapes either; this is what its like when one tough character responds to your pre-emptive mickeymouse.
    • I heard it, but I don't get it
      I was on my way to work when the exchange took place betweeen Wilson and Zac/Jack...I did not hear anything that the radio guys said that was not the truth about the IU program past tense...they were not talking about the future except that it was a tough job, which is the truth. IU is the whipping boy of the Big Ten, and Wilson will have to do more than verbally beat up a couple of talking heads to make them anything else...I do wish him luck, but he overreacted dramatically. In defense of Wilson, Trudeau also overreacted after the fact, likely because Wilson inferred he did not know anything about football...as he did play pro football for 10 years, and led Illinois to the Rose Bowl in 1984 (more recently than Indiana as I recall), he probably does know football...nevertheless, calling the coach an ass and saying he was going to call everyone he knew at IU to complain was certainly not taking the high road, and made it appear that he had an agenda. They are both guys who probably need to check their ego and temper at the door. That said, if Wilson can make IU a contender and a bowl team on a regular basis in a league that has added Nebraska recently, he will be one of the great miracle workers of all time. We will see who laughs last, and whose head swells the largest.
    • Ticket Spike
      And Trudeau said he was going to tell his bigshot IU donor friends about how big of a jerk Wilson was during the interview. I guess his "friends," along with most people, don't care too much about what Jack has to say. Not a surprise.
    • Large Omission
      I'm sure that the signing of Gunner Kiel has nothing to do with the boost in ticket sales. Come on now.
    • Jacka**
      I thought it was Trudeau that came off looking like an ass not Wilson. You have a guest on your show and start making jokes about his team? I'll admit I was never a Jack Trudeau fan anyway and he can take his sorry but back to Illinois. He said he was sorry his kid is enrolled at IU and I'm sorry that IU would even except his kid. We surely have better standards!
    • Since when?
      Since when is a coach defending his program an "ass"? I have no interest in sports, but there's a difference between asking a challenging question and insulting an interview subject. Seems like Trudeau's the ass here.

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