Changes are in order for Miami athletics
The Rieger Report
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 22:04
It is time for a change at Miami University.
Students, faculty and the Oxford community are indifferent about the success of Miami’s athletic teams. Whether it is the culture, the on-the-field success or the level of competition, Miami is not a school most college sports fans follow.
This column has attempted to highlight various parts of Miami’s Athletic Department over the last two years, and for my final column of the year, I have outlined a three-part plan detailing how Miami can fix the apathy surrounding its athletics.
Miami does not invest enough resources into its athletic programs.
The recent coaching carousel and conference realignment coupled with the cuts set for Miami’s Athletic Department over the next five years do not help the situation.
The only way Miami can retain long-term coaches who are capable of attracting, retaining and developing quality talent is to pay them more and improve their incentive structure.
However, to attract these individuals, Miami must develop its facilities. Goggin Ice Center, Yager Stadium, Hayden Park and the Miami Softball Stadium are relatively new, attractive stadiums, but it has been over 40 years since Millett Hall was built.
Miami must invest in these facilities and update them. It is too late to relocate Miami’s stadiums, so Miami must incentivize student attendance. This means streamlining buses to stadiums on game days, working with Greek life to create events centered on games, such as Have a Greek Day, and must permit and promote tailgating, especially for football games.
Miami has to switch conferences.
While Miami is one of the oldest members of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the MAC does not give the ’Hawks quality competition.
If the Red and White can create consistent program success, they could potentially look to jump to Conference USA or to the Big East Conference. This switch is even more likely considering the jumps teams such as University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse University, and West Virginia University have made between conferences, not to mention Temple University’s return to the Big East from the MAC.
And if Temple can do it, why can’t Miami?
The RedHawks need to give fans outside of Oxford a reason to travel to Miami to watch games, and a conference switch would do just that.
Miami needs a culture shift.
Students come to this university already aligned with their team from their home state. For those from Ohio, that usually means the Ohio State University (OSU) or the University of Cincinnati.
Almost every state has at least one college powerhouse athletic program. These teams give sports fans an opportunity to identify with their state, especially for fans from states without professional teams, such as Kentucky. Sports are a unique medium where people from all backgrounds come together for a common cause.
Miami’s problem: Ohio has at least one professional team in every major sport and already has two powerhouse schools to choose from.
The market for college athletics in one state is only so big, and Miami is getting squeezed out.
Students come to Miami already a fan of another major program. Miami is their “backup” team.
However, there are examples of teams increasing their prominence and success.
Texas Christian University, San Diego State University and Boise State University are three recent examples of teams who have significantly increased their exposure. Each of them did so mainly by creating winning teams for consecutive seasons.
The Red and White need to increase the resources for its athletic program to ensure success year in and year out.
Then, and only then, will Miami give fans a reason to come to games.