Just in case the VCU Athletic Department has run out of ideas, here are 10 bold suggestions for the VCU basketball program.
The VCU Athletics Department has been on quite a run ever since the Stuart C. Siegel opened up in 1999. Despite quite a bit of turnover, the basketball program has exploded after hiring three extremely successful basketball coaches, attending six NCAA Tournaments, and going to the 2011 Final Four. After 35 sell-outs and the retention of Coach Smart, VCU looks like it won’t slow down for a long time.
But just in case they’ve run out of ideas, here are 10 bold suggestions for the VCU basketball program.
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1. Change the name from Rams to HAVOC!.
23% of teams in the Atlantic 10 have Rams as their mascot and it’s one of the more generic names in college athletics. Part Coach Smart’s genius is branding. It may be premature, but sooner or later VCU should become The HAVOC! while keeping the horns as a logo.
2. Give students the first five rows of the entire stadium.
VCU owns the 5th longest active sellout streak in college basketball. Before every game, the game notes undoubtedly mention this prior to listing the four other teams: Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, and Gonzaga. Duke (354 games) and Michigan State (244 games) are not only the gold standard at selling out games, but their home court advantage is insane. The need to generate revenue is obvious, but the first five rows of the Siegel Center should be reserved for students. Imagine the rowdiness! After all, it’s about the students, right?
3. Don’t over-expand the Siegel Center.
9,000 fans, 10,000 fans, 12,000 fans?!?! In 1999, the Stuart C. Siegel Center was built for $30.1 million which in hindsight was a pretty good deal. Plans are supposedly in the works to expand the Siegel Center, but the athletic department should be patient. Add more boxes and fill in two of the tunnels, but imagine what could be done with the supposed $12 million needed for expansion. VCU hesitated when increasing Ryan Kopacsi’s contract which pales in comparison to what it takes to retain Coach Smart. The university didn’t offer enough opportunities to send students to Brooklyn and Auburn Hills, MI. RVA is a creative DIY town, imagine how far that money could go while not threatening the 35 game sell-out streak.
4. Bus so many students to Brooklyn that the A-10 won’t know what to do.
VCU had an unfair advantage every March when the CAA Tournament came to Richmond. Sometimes I wonder if the Rams would have prevailed in 2007 and 2012 if the tournament was held in a city like Baltimore. Unfortunately, not that many students attended the 2013 A-10 Tournament in Brooklyn.
5. Take down the #6 ranking banner.
The Siegel Center has a ton of banners that have to do with winning: the 2011 Final Four banner, NCAA Tournament banners, NIT banners, the 2010 CBI Champions banner, CAA Champion banners, and CAA Tournament Champion banners.
Here is a list of of banners in the Siegel Center that don’t have to do with winning:
- Final Ranking #6
If the banner is up their because of an obsession with symmetry about the speakers at mid-court, why not hang a banner honoring the 2011 Final Four Battle of the Band champions, the VCU Peppas?
6. Always schedule spring break for the first week of the NCAA Tournament.
Wait, am I suggesting VCU plan its academic schedule around basketball? Yes, I am. It’s time we be honest about how little is accomplished across the USA during the month of March. Anyone who ventured to Dayton or Chicago during spring break in 2011 undoubtedly agrees.
7. Host a tailgate in a VCU parking garage.
VCU doesn’t have football, and basketball gods willing, they never will. That doesn’t mean VCU should miss out on the magic of a good, old-fashioned tailgate (the 3rd most American thing after George Washington and July 4th). VCU used to have the “Chill ‘n Grill”, but the rules were overly strict and the VV parking lot has been reduced to six spots. More than once a year, VCU should rope off a garage and let fans be fans.
8. Create attire rules for the student sections.
On March 10th, 2013, Indiana visited Michigan. A few Indiana fans found themselves in the Michigan student section. Authority figures found them, handed them maize and blue shirts, and told them to put them on or move to the upper part of the stadium. Some don’t like this. I think it’s amazing. Here is the official Michigan rule for the bleachers:
Students with a ticket in the bleachers are required to wear a maize Michigan shirt (preferably basketball related), a Michigan basketball jersey, or a costume. Students who do not comply with this requirement may be moved to the blue or gold sections.
The Rowdy Rams sold 1,500 tickets in 11 hours and 7 minutes, surely they can relegate opposing fans (here’s to you LaSalle fans on January 26th) not wearing black and gold to the back rows of the student sections.
9. Punish students that leave the Siegel Center before the 10-minute mark in the 2nd half.
VCU is entering that magical world where students camp out before games, and it’s awesome. Unfortunately, there are only 2,000 seats for students in the Siegel Center. When a student enters the arena, they take the spot of another student. If that student leaves before the 10-minute mark in the 2nd half, he or she should not be allowed to attend the next game.
10. Start an online ticket exchange for season ticket holders that are planning to skip a game.
Not bold, just practical. The days of Wednesday night Towson games are long gone (for the record, Towson is really, really good now), but season ticket holders still skip games and leave their seats empty. This transaction needs to be made easier than ever. Knowing what some fans go through to see HAVOC! in person, it’s painful to watch a seat go unoccupied, even if VCU is playing Central Northwest East Carolina.