The men’s basketball team was very successful this season, winning 22 out of 31 games and the Gulf South Conference championship title. Through their successful season, not many supporters were in attendance at the home games. The lack of support for the team is extremely low compared to the school’s football team. Many have speculated that the lack of attendance is due to the basketball team’s lack of involvement to interact with the students and community. The answer to this problem has been provided with opinions from students, statements from basketball players, and interviews with the assistant athletic director and head coach.
Most believe that the lack of attendance is due to the previous unsuccessful seasons the team has had. However, last year the team went far, making it to the second round of the GSC championship. So that belief can’t be the reason why people are not showing up in the stands.
The men’s basketball team’s lack of attendance can come from many different angles but until you have a chance of being a player that is on the court, the feeling of not having much support is sad. That’s what basketball player Christian Houston thinks when he looks into the audience and see less people coming to watch him and his team play at home in the Coliseum. “I’m not sure why we don’t have the support from our university but since we don’t, it forces us to play harder to win so we can gain attention and support from our peers and the community,” stated Houston.
Opinions from students ranged from marketing ideas to home game activities. Some students suggested that the basketball team should formally introduce themselves. “I can’t tell you the name of at least one player because I don’t know who’s on the team,” stated student
Ashley Greene. Meet and greets, one-on-one basketball matches, and basketball study nights are some of the events that students thought the team could do to possibly bring more people to their games. These opinions from the student body can only help the team because it gives the students and teammates the ability to interact with one another and eventually create bonds. Therefore, more students are coming out to the home games in support of the team because they now know who they are cheering for. In an interview with Head Coach Michael Cooney, he defended the players’ involvement with the community and touched on the some of the events that they have done in the past. “Success could be the reason why we’ve lacked attendance the last couple of years but with the players that we have now, we’re working to becoming a more successful team,” said Coach Cooney. “My players have helped out in the community by reading to younger kids, mentoring young boys who lack fathers, and participating in organizations that focus on boys maturing into men.
The basketball team may have contributed their time with the community but the community and the students want more involvement from the team surrounding the sport they play. The opinions that were given from the students most likely compare to the community’s opinions about what the players can do to get more bodies in the stands. One individual who agreed with the student’s marketing ideas was Assistant Athletic Director Matt Cooke. “I think that we can market more to get a better reach for the student’s participation at home games,” said Cooke. Cooke also went on to speak about student’s perception of Division II basketball and how the attendance is low because of students’ urge to be somewhere else. “You have to have a connection with the school you attend and not the school you wish to attend. Cheering for a bigger school and a school that you see play on television is fine, but have that same energy and support for the school that you attend,” stated Cooke. That mentality that Mr. Cooke mentioned could be the reason why the men’s basketball team lack attendance because students wish to cheer on bigger Division I schools rather than showing support for their own home team.
The engagement from the team will encourage the students to show up to their games. Participation on campus and in the community will bring participation from the students to get more involved in going to cheer their basketball team to victory. More marketing ideas and events that bring connections between the players and the students should be the focus of this team’s strategy to increase the attendance at their games. All of the opinions, statements, and quoted facts that were provided is the answer to the lack of support for the team. The success will come both with the team and attendance and the Coliseum will be packed with supportive fans.