Purple shirts and tattered hats representing Wildcat sports are common on campus. Toy footballs and T-shirts fired into a crowd of football fans emphasize ACU’s support for its athletic department, and more importantly, our common identity as students and faculty cheering for the purple and white.
But there is something about seeing our quarterback’s face looking down from a two-story poster that leads a few of us to wonder, “Is ACU being a little excessive?”
It is reasonable to wonder as students whether our money is being used for a worthy purpose. It is easy, when unaware of what goes on behind the scenes, to develop a negative or bitter attitude concerning the university’s marketing decisions.
However, consider for a moment what our university would be without an effort to reward students for their skill, commitment and success in their sport.
Jason Groves, associate vice president of marketing, said the focus of the new athletic marketing campaign is to promote all sports, not only to ACU students, but also to alumni, faculty, staff and the Abilene community.
“We really want to create a lot of energy,” Groves said. “It’s not just about sports. It’s about community being together, having fun, rallying behind something and getting students, alumni and professors in one place having a good time together.”
The most recent ACU football game was the first big push of the campaign. Marketing interns played a large role in raising funds and engaging the community in the game. Flags on Judge Ely Boulevard, table-toppers in numerous Abilene restaurants and game day T-shirts were funded almost entirely by local businesses, Groves said.
“We are really thinking through some grassroots and community marketing approaches that will give us more leverage – without increase in dollars,” Groves said.
By involving the community and finding creative ways to raise money, Groves said the university will be able to do more with their funding. This results in increased awareness of and participation in athletic events, he said.
The university’s promotion efforts are admirable. There should be more enthusiasm and spirit when it comes to supporting our fellow Wildcats. School pride is something that unites students and shows others we are proud of our university. Pregame parties and free T-shirts are part of the college culture and something students should appreciate, even if they do not actively participate. The day we see holograms of Bernard Scott high-fiving students on their way to class is the day we can worry, but until then, give a high-five yourself, catch a football game and let ACU catch a break.