Athletics looks to be headed in the right direction during the first year of Sean Frazier’s tenure as Athletics director. His strategy to improve Athletics and the school as a whole through renovations to Huskie Stadium are well-intentioned but vague.
The intended changes at Huskie Stadium — through improving the fan experience with better concessions, restrooms and premium areas — are smart, but he lacks plans for other sports.
NIU has one of the best men’s tennis programs in the country and just won the MAC regular season Championship, but it plays in one of the country’s worst tennis facilities.
Additionally, Athletics needs to be concerned with attendance issues with sports besides football. Men’s and women’s basketball averaged per-game attendances of 1,012 and 379, respectively.
Attendance woes go beyond student apathy in regard to years of poor performance on the court. The remote location of the Convocation Center and poor marketing also play a role.
Frazier said there are plans in place for shuttles to and from the Convo, but logistics haven’t been worked out. This should happen soon as it will make the Convo accessible for all students.
NIU needs to more aggressively market men’s and women’s basketball, like it does football.
Finally, Athletics needs to continue to cultivate student involvement. It’s taken steps to start internships, but it needs to go beyond that.
“I think that we’ve grown past the suitcase mentality where we go home every weekend,” Frazier said.
NIU hasn’t grown past that mentality, but making sure students are involved is one way for Athletics to help the school grow the national brand it’s creating.
The changes are exciting and will hopefully build on Athletics’ success, but outlines don’t win championships.