The July edition of Ask the ADAugust 5, 2005 · MT Media Relations
Fan: Marc Rogers (Franklin)
Question: Have you managed to get your family moved and in place?
Massaro Response: Yes, in fact the movers came to our house on Tuesday, July 26. I was in New Orleans for the Sun Belt Conference AD meetings at the time so my wife and children had to deal with the move by themselves. We live in a wonderful neighborhood and the people of Middle Tennessee have been great to us and made us a welcomed part of the community. We are all eager for the fall sports season to get started and watch the Blue Raiders.
Fan: Eric (Murfreesboro)
Question: Are there any plans to get MT into a more stable and viable conference and what about getting more high profile teams coming to Murfreesboro?
Massaro Response: When Marshall and Boise State moved conferences the one thing they offered was full stadiums, so there is no reason we can not be like those two schools and become sought after programs. I agree with you about bringing in more recognizable opponents. We want to have a high profile out of conference opponent coming to Floyd Stadium every year. Next year we have Louisville as a home game in Nashville, then Virginia comes to Floyd Stadium in 2007 and Maryland follows in 2008.
Fan: Clayton Arrington (Nashville)
Question: Would you please consider packaging a BRAA membership with season football or basketball tickets?
Massaro Response: We have talked about having a one-check campaign next year in February through April that would be good for your BRAA membership, football tickets, and basketball tickets. This would keep us from asking for the same things three or four different times over the course of the year.
Fan: Doug Malan (Southington, CT)
Question: Concerned with attendance, academics, and why we are not on the same level as Southern Miss, Louisville, and Boise State in football.
Massaro Response: We are trying to encourage excitement of playing big games at home and this year that game is against North Texas. I expect a tremendous environment against a team that has won 25 straight conference games and the Sun Belt Conference title four years in a row. This is our home opener, Tennessee does not play, and Vanderbilt is on the road, so we have a great chance of drawing a big crowd. I hope our fans pick up the challenge and come out and support our student-athletes.
With regards to our academic performance, yes, we are embarrassed by the APR score but we are working hard to improve. I am very encouraged by the assistance we have received from our coaches and the people across campus. However, let me tell you that our football program's graduation rate is better than that of the regular student body and we have some quality student-athletes in our football program. Unfortunately, you do not get to read about all the positives happening with regard to academics.
When I came to Middle Tennessee, one of the comparisons I made was the University of Louisville. Twenty years ago, Louisville was dwarfed by another school in the SEC. Louisville made some changes to their football schedule, got Papa John's to come on board, and made some good decisions administratively to put the right people in place in order to build on their past basketball success. I can see the same thing happening at Middle Tennessee because we have a lot of assets. We are located in a terrific area and there is no doubt we can become what Southern Miss, Louisville, and Boise State are in football. Once we reach that level we will have a different set of goals and standards.
Fan: Frank Cox (Murfreesboro)
Question: Hi Chris, and welcome to Murfreesboro. We are all excited about your arrival and I have even upped my BRAA contribution for this year. What about a garage sale where fans can donate items to help raise money for the athletic program?
Massaro Response: Thanks, Frank. We may implement something like that in the future but please keep reminding me. Maybe a good date to have this event is the spring football game.
Fan: Mike (Murfreesboro)
Question: Can Blue Raider fans ever expect to see banners in the Murphy Center depicting our three All-Sports trophies?
Massaro Response: Mike, first of all let me thank you for upping your BRAA contribution. If everybody did this then obviously we could have more resources and greater chance for success. It is ironic you asked this question as we are currently examining the banner situation in the Murphy Center. We need to have continuity in our banners so all of them are the same shape, have the same font, and virtually the same design. As for the All-Sports trophies banner we are looking to hang it in the Murphy Center.
Fan: John C. Mathieson (Nashville)
Question: Why do we not have any football games on TV this year? What is the status of field turf? I am disappointed in the hiring of Rick Insell and why is Andy McCollum our coach?
Massaro Response: As of today, we have two football games scheduled to be televised this season. Sept. 10 against North Texas on ESPN+Plus and Nov. 26 at Troy on ESPNU. We do have those two games and we are looking at a couple more for local television. Television is very important to us because we want all our fans in the Middle Tennessee area to be able to watch our football team.
We do have plans to replace the artificial turf in Floyd Stadium with a type of synthetic surface, along with adding a videoboard. I believe these two things will truly enhance everyone's gameday experience at Floyd Stadium. I am sorry you are disappointed in the hiring of Rick Insell. He has a tremendous work ethic and has a great understanding of AAU, recruiting, and college basketball overall. I believe you are going to be happy with our results. He gives us the best chance to be great. There has been a number of coaches go from high school to the college ranks and been very successful. Oklahoma hired Sherry Cole and she took them to the National Championship game, so it can be done. I will not talk about personnel, but I will tell you that I am excited about our football program, the players coming back, the coaches preparation, and our overall potential. I can't wait to see us play at Alabama and at home against North Texas in the first two weeks. Those games give us a great opportunity to set a very positive tone the rest of the year.
Fan: Del Vineyard (Dickson)
Question: How about reserving a section in Floyd Stadium for season ticket holders who have guests they would like to sit with?
Massaro Response: I will get with our ticket office and put this plan in place. When I was at South Carolina we allowed season ticket holders and their guests to swap out tickets so they could sit together. Obviously, this could not happen on sellouts but only makes sense any other time. Going to football games is a social event and we want season ticket holders who bring friends to be able to sit together. I can not guarantee where you will be sitting but we will do everything we can to accommodate you.
Fan: Richard Walter (Murfreesboro)
Question: What is the time frame on securing a jumbotron?
Massaro Response: Dr. McPhee and Coach McCollum ask me the same question quite often. We would like to have it in place by the start of the 2006 season, but we have to figure out a way to pay for it. We have looked at a couple models, done some research, but we are still in the initial stages.
Fan: Dave Schroeder (Portland)
Question: Would you consider allowing kids onto the field after football games?
Massaro Response: I will discuss this with some of our university personnel, but I do feel that the field needs to be secured for a period of time so that both teams can get into their locker rooms safely. Our number one priority is to protect the people who are visiting our stadium, including our players, referees, coaches, and fans. We might designate one game for kids to come onto the turf because I know what big deal it is to go onto the field. We will look into finding a way to make that work.
Fan: Chris Groce (Walter Hill)
Question: Is there any way in the future we can get a Lightning's Locker Room booth set up at Uncle Dave Macon Days?
Massaro Response: You may not know, but Lightning's Locker Room is not controlled by the athletic department so I will pass that suggestion on to our University Bookstore. At this year's event we had our big football helmet up and a booth where we were handing out season ticket brochures, schedule cards, and BRAA information to make more of an awareness of our athletic program. We feel it is very important to have a presence at as many events as possible.
Fan: Chris Groce (Walter Hill)
Question: Flying Blue Raider flags on Friday's
Massaro Response: Chris, we would be more than happy to promote this on our website. I have asked Mark Owens, who handles our site, to make this happen. In fact, I will take this a step further and ask Blue Raider fans to wear Blue on Friday's and call it "Blue Friday". We are currently working with faculty, staff, and students to wear Blue on Friday, but we need your help to get the message out to the general public. Let's fly flags, wear Blue and start generating a lot of excitement.
Fan: Glenn Richard (Murfreesboro)
Question: What about scheduling Thursday night football games)
Massaro Response: Glenn, I am all for scheduling Thursday night games. In fact, I called the conference office sometime ago and let them know that we would be willing to move any of our home games to any weekday night. The positives of playing on a weekday night far outweigh the negatives. Hopefully next year we can work it into our schedule to have a Thursday night game.
Fan: MTLover (Dominican, Carribbean)
Question: Wants to see all faculty and staff step up and support the athletic program?
Massaro Response: I believe that school spirit helps the entire moral of the campus. We will be a part of the new faculty orientation later this month and will encourage everyone to get involved with our athletic program. We are always seeking ways to bridge the gap between athletics and the campus community.
Fan: Randy Wilhite (Murfreesboro)
Question: Will there by any support from the athletic department this year towards the Hockey Club on campus?
Massaro Response: I am very aware of the Middle Tennessee Ice Hockey team and their impressive record over the past couple of years. It is great to see the students of MTSU doing well and we are very supportive of their efforts.
Fan: BlueSpirit (Nashville)
Question: Is there any work being done on scheduling football and basketball games with Memphis?
Massaro Response: I would love to play home-and-home games with Memphis and Vanderbilt. I am hopeful that Tennessee will play us in some sports on campus in the very near future.
Fan: RaiderFan (Nashville)
Question: As AD, are you planning on making some appearances in the stands during football games?
Massaro Response: Yes. My family is planning on sitting in the stands and I will visit them and others frequently.
Fan: Jordan (5) and Claire Shirley (4) (Murfreesboro)
Question: Will there be kid sized t-shirts given away as part of the promotional events at football and basketball games?
Massaro Response: Jordan and Claire thank you for being such good fans. I have a six-year-old and a five-year-old who are frustrated at the same thing. The shirts are big, but what we do is use them as sleeping shirts. When we order in bulk it is very difficult to match sizes. Generally, you target shirts toward our audience. If the target is kids, we order one or two youth sizes, if the target is adults then we order two sizes that work for adults. We try to do the best you can because the sizes you have will not fit everyone.
Fan: Todd Malone (Smyrna)
Question: I am still wanting us to reserve a jersey number for the fans. The fans are the ultimate MVP so let's honor them like no other school.
Massaro Response: Retiring and reserving numbers can get you into a little trouble when it comes to recruiting. If you recruit a kid and he wants the No. 12 and you have it reserved, then you really do not know how that will play out in his decision. Believe it or not, numbers are a big deal to kids because it is part of their identity. I have heard kids going to a school because he could wear a particular number. This is something we would have to take a hard look at because when you make a decision like this it is permanent, so we don't want to rush into this.
Fan: Osby Martin (Antioch)
Question: How important is the home opener this year for the Blue Raiders football squad and Coach McCollum?
Massaro Response: It is a very important game and one we are very excited about. North Texas has won 25 straight conference games and all four Sun Belt Conference titles. We are hosting the best team in the Sun Belt. We have a lot of experience on our football team with 17 starters returning and historically the game with North Texas has always been close. It should be a great game and I hope we have a full house with an electric atmosphere. Buy your tickets NOW! It should be great!
Fan: Steve Hice (Tullahoma)
Question: Does Middle Tennessee have a men's volleyball club team that competes like the hockey team?
Massaro Response: Yes, Middle Tennessee has a club volleyball team that competes against other university teams. For more information, please contact Mike Heverly at 615-268-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fan: Marc Rogers (Franklin)
Question: Are you concerned about the APR (Academic Progress Rate) and are there plans to help us meet our goals?
Massaro Response: Yes, I am very concerned with the APR. We have already made some changes in our academic center by hiring two additional counselors. We have implemented the academic game program for all of our student-athletes that is aimed at retention and progress before graduation. I do need to point out that even though our APR is low some of our other academic statistics are quite impressive. For instance, our student-athletes graduate at a higher percentage than the normal student body and that is something we are very proud of at Middle Tennessee. Our goal is to graduate all of our young men and women and when that happens we have been successful.
Fan: Marc Rogers (Franklin)
Question: Will the Band of Blue make any away game appearances this year?
Massaro Response: I have heard great things about the Band of Blue and am eager to watch them perform. I understand that they are preparing for the Alabama game and will be in attendance, so this will be a great opportunity for our fans to see them perform.
Fan: Jim Dillon (Murfreesboro)
Question: I have always wondered why some of the large corporations like Bridgestone and Nissan have not been approached or encouraged to attend home games. Can you elaborate?
Massaro Response: Jim, thanks for the suggestion. Group sales are very important to our short term and long term success. Yes, companies like Bridgestone and Nissan need to be approached about coming on board and attending our games. However, some companies have been approached about group sales opportunities and it is not limited to large companies. There's room for smaller and medium size businesses as well to take advantage of group tickets. This presents a wonderful way to allow large groups to come to the game together and enjoy the social atmosphere of a Division I-A football game. We have pricing for as low as $8 for sideline seats for groups of 20 or more or endzone seats for $5 for groups of 25 or more. We feel like our pricing fits into most peoples budgets and is a great way to share an experience with friends or colleagues you may be associated with.
Fan: Chris Hazelwood (Murfreesboro)
Question: How is the Horseshoe project coming along?
Massaro Response: The project is on schedule and I was told in a meeting this past Tuesday that it would be erected on Aug. 16. It will obviously be there in plenty of time for our Sept. 10 home opener and we are very excited about this new tradition.
Fan: Stephen Wiley (Murfreesboro)
Question: Why has FAU, a team that has had a football program for just four years, been given such a high profile SBC TV schedule for 2005?.
Massaro Response: They have a high profile coach (Howard Schnellenberger) and play a high profile opponent (Oklahoma State). Quite frankly, one thing that hurts us is our home attendance. The television people believe this indicates a lack of interest in our program. The best thing we can do is pack Floyd Stadium on a regular basis and create a buzz with our program. Television will follow.
Fan: AlwaysBlue (Nashville)
Question: What was the Commissioner of the Sun Belt thinking when he scheduled Florida Atlantic and Florida International for so many television games? It's not fair to the rest of the league.
Massaro Response: We are disappointed that we are not on more national television this year, but at the same time Florida Atlantic and Florida International bring great value to our league. This is still a great chance for the league to be showcased and we actually receive indirect benefits by those two schools being on television because we heavily recruit those areas. Hopefully in the future our games will be as attractive to ESPN.
Fan: Stephen Wiley (Murfreesboro)
Question: What are your thoughts on doing promotions and advertisements centered around one player like our quarterback? You could pass out wristbands to be worn on the left hand and with each great play fans could raise up their left arm.
Massaro Response: Centering promotions around one player it can become pretty dicey. Let's say next year we promote only the quarterback and he gets hurt in preseason. It's more productive to spread the promotional opportunities around to coaches and a number of high profile players.
Fan: A.J. Farley (Murfreesboro)
Question: Do you have plans for any regular updates of ticket sales to the general public?
Massaro Response: Yes, I do have plans for regular season ticket sales updates. In fact, we want to be very public with our goal of having a minimum of 15,000 fans at each of our home games. Right now we have almost sold 5,000 season tickets which is about 600 ahead of where we were last year at this time. Obviously, we need to improve upon that number and hopefully we will have a very productive August.
Fan: Ricky Greenberg (Murfreesboro)
Question: What are other SBC schools doing to fund their athletic facility upgrades? Is a student activity fee increase a possibility?
Massaro Response: Thanks Ricky. I am still trying to learn about all the facilities and possible upgrades around the league and how we compare. I would prefer to see us raise revenue without increasing student fees.
Fan: Lynn Batey (Murfreesboro)
Question: I liked hearing that you are going to give new grads a one-year BRAA membership and two football season ticket vouchers. How about doing that for men's and women's basketball and baseball? How about holding ticket drawings at mid-state grocery stores? Give away two tickets at each store the week of each home game. .
Massaro Response: I am glad you like our plan, Lynn. We know it is not always easy your first year out of college so we want our graduates to know how important they are to our program. We will have to look into providing vouchers to basketball and baseball. I like your idea about the giveaways at grocery stores, but at the same time we have to really be careful and not de-value our ticket. We have a very affordable and solid product at Middle Tennessee.
Fan: Damion Cronin (Murfreesboro)
Question: What if we had some sort of softball, flag football, volleyball, or basketball tournament and charged a nominal fee then have the finals of each tournament at the playing venue of that particular sport?
Massaro Response: Damion, thank you for your idea. It would take some work trying to fit it into our sports schedule, but it is something we can look into. Having our students involved with our athletic program is a primary goal of this department and we are open to any suggestions.
Fan: Warner Cribb (Murfreesboro)
Question: What about putting a "B" on the back of our football helmet to signify the Central Basin like Fresno State does with a "V" to symbolize the San Joaquin Valley?.
Massaro Response: Warner, I appreciate your input and I think your points are very interesting. Fresno State has the name of the city (Fresno) in its school name. They take it a step beyond with the "V" in an effort to demonstrate it represents the entire geographic region known as the San Joaquin Valley. At Middle Tennessee, we do not have the name of our city included in our school name. We take pride in Middle Tennessee and our "MT" logo being representative of the fact we embody not only Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, but also the entire Central Basin. As an athletic department we need to become more of an influence in the region.
Fan: Lynn Batey (Murfreesboro)
Question: How about free admission to an MT football game with a Titans ticket stub?
Massaro Response: You suggest an idea I will have our people look into. We would have to get permission from the Titans because there could be some legal issues in using their ticket stub. I would be more interested in discounted tickets rather than free ones.
Question: What are your plans to increase attendance for volleyball?
Massaro Response: First of all, I would like for everyone to know what a fast paced and exciting game the sport of volleyball is at Middle Tennessee. We have some very talented players, including four local products (Lindsay Sisco, Megan Carter, Hannah Randolph, and Ashley Asberry), and a top-notch coaching staff. We are coming off our best season ever since joining the Sun Belt Conference and excitement is high for this year's squad. More importantly, we host the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Alumni Gym on Nov. 17-19 so make your plans to attend.
Fan: Charles Feldhaus (Shelbyville)
Question: Has Blue Raider athletics thought about selling/leasing naming rights for certain facilities?
Massaro Response: Yes, we have thought about naming rights for facilities and would love for individuals or corporations to step up and become donors.
Fan: Mindy Cliburn (Knoxville)
Question: Why doesn't the band travel to more away games (for football)?
Massaro Response: Personally, I wish the Band of Blue could travel to every game we play, but unfortunately it comes down to a financial situation. There are nearly 300 band members, and in addition to the large number of performers, you must also take into consideration the tremendous undertaking required to transport all of the equipment. The Band of Blue will be at the Alabama game and the Vanderbilt contest in 2005.
Fan: Jeremy Baker (Murfreesboro)
Question: Do you have any single-game tickets for sale in the endzone? All I could see were the $15 sideline seats.
Massaro Response: Jeremy, single game tickets are $15 for sideline seats and $10 for endzone. Also, a group of 25 or more can purchase tickets in the endzone for $5 each. Thanks for your support and we will see you on Sept. 10.
THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL THE QUESTIONS I RECEIVED THIS MONTH. WE ARE RECEIVING NEARLY TWO PER DAY AND THAT SIGNIFIES A GREAT DEAL OF INTEREST IN OUR PROGRAMS. ALL OF YOU HAVE GREAT IDEAS AND I HAVE ENJOYED, NOT ONLY RESPONDING, BUT READING EACH OF YOUR THOUGHTS. I LOOK FORWARD TO VISITING WITH YOU AGAIN NEXT MONTH.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
More Athletics NewsMay 11, 2013: 38 student-athletes earned degrees today
May 9, 2013: Pair of Raiders named International Student Athletes of the Year
May 3, 2013: Holcomb to be inducted into Hall of Fame Saturday night
Apr 30, 2013: Nominees announced for Raiders Choice Awards
Apr 30, 2013: The Aspire Group partners with Middle Tennessee Athletics
Apr 24, 2013: Chance for $500 shopping spree ends Tuesday