Lack of turnout at WNIT costs $9,000

Reporter and Reporter

The University’s Athletic Department shows support for the women’s basketball program by hosting playoff games at its own court.

Three Women’s National Invitational Tournament games were played at the Stroh Center, generating $35,000 for the WNIT and losing money in their overall bid for the home playoff games.

“We make the decision to bid for as many home games as we can,” said Lesley Irvine, associate athletic director. “This is a positive thing we do — not all schools will do that. We have a great fan base, and this is great opportunity for us to show support in our teams.”

Irvine said the support for the women’s basketball team is so great that groups purchase tickets to give away to students for free to boost attendance.

“We want to give our teams the best opportunity to win at home,” said Jason Knavel, assistant athletic director. “Athletes want to play at home.”

Knavel said by the Athletic Department hosting home playoff games, it helps potential recruits commit to the University because there is so much support in the program.

“[Hosting playoff games] helps recruitment because as a coaching staff, being able to tell recruits that they can host postseason games shows support in women’s program,” Knavel said. “And it helps increase exposure of the University.”

In order to have these home games for the WNIT, the Athletic Department has to bid to get the games at the Stroh.

“When we bid for these games, we don’t bid high, we bid in a way to break even,” Irvine said. “We are not in it to make money, that is tough to do. We are in the bid to make it as competitive as possible.”

A bid is a guarantee to the WNIT that the school will generate a certain number of ticket sales.

“If you don’t meet that mark, we have to pay the WNIT that payment,” Irvine said. “Oftentimes you wont break even.”

This year the Athletic Department guaranteed that they would sell $44,000 worth of tickets, according to information given by the department.

To help out, the Division of Student Affairs purchased 300 tickets from the Athletic Department to show support of the WNIT bids, said Jill Carr, dean of students and vice president of student affairs.

Carr said they only gave out 160 of those tickets to students.

“Student affairs supports athletic programs to make it possible for students to attend athletic events without having to pay more than their college tuition already demands,” Carr said. “We don’t want to make them pay out of pocket for them to support their school.”

The Athletic Department bid $14,000 for each of the first two games and $16,000 for the third round, Knavel said.

“We generated $35,000 in revenue from the three games. The gap will be covered by the women’s basketball enhancement fund, which is money fundraised specifically for initiatives such as these,” he said.

Although the Athletic Department will need to pay the WNIT $9,000, Knavel estimated that an away game costs the team around $4,000 in hotel, travel and meal fees.

Had the team played three playoff games, the program could have spent up to $12,000, Knavel said.

“With a postseason tournament, you don’t know how far you might be sent,” Knavel said. “Expenses could go much higher than that if airfare is needed.”

Knavel said he feels the postseason should be a reward for the athletes and that he thinks the athletic departments should do all that they can to help reward them.

“The postseason is a reward of achievement in student athletics,” Knavel said. “Being able to host those types of events is a big thing and it’s an important thing, we would be doing a disservice if we didn’t do everything we could to host those games.”