Dr. Wood Selig Responds!

March 9, 2001

Submit your question to the Hilltoppers' Athletic Director.

Q: "I am very pleased with the decision to move our football team to the Gateway Conference. I believe an equally positive change would be to move from the Sun Belt to the Missouri Valley Conference. Rivalries would form across the football and basketball programs with teams like Southern Illinois and Southwest Missouri State. SMS also offers top notch competition for our Lady Toppers. Also, the MVC membership seems to better fit WKU, both competitively and geographically. What are your thoughts?" -- question submitted by Scott Graybill (Tulsa, Okla.)

Dr. Selig: "Very tough question. Right now we are committed to the SBC and making it the best league we can. We take pride in membership within a conference that is one of less than one dozen I-A football conferences in the country (there are almost 3 dozen total D-I conferences, but the I-A football conferences typically dominate the media coverage and exposure - we are part of one of the highly visible I-A's despite not yet playing I-A football). The SBC offers us potentially better long term visibility and more stability for membership of all of our sports (including football if we ever decide to peruse I-A football membership status). The MVC is a great conference and makes tremendous sense for all those reasons you listed. Travel in the MVC would be just as difficult as the SBC with the geographical dispersion of the MVC. We would have few bus trips that much shorter than those we make in the SBC. Typically we would be forced to fly to many MVC sites. The SBC is the top 10 women's basketball conference and the top 5 baseball conference and we are making great strides in membership, competitiveness, and national recognition. We will always keep an eye out for the best possible competitive home for the Hilltoppers as the conference landscape is quick and ever-changing one. Thanks for your support of the Toppers."

Q: "Does Western have plans to beef up the non-conference basketball schedule for both men and women? Could that include non-conference games in the midst of the conference schedule? With the departure of Louisiana Tech, the women will not have any "quality" conference games. I understand the economics of the game, but judging by the attendance this year, Topper fans want quality opponents even if it requires a 2 for 1." -- question submitted by Ben Wathen (Bardstown, Ky.)

Dr. Selig: "Thanks for your question. We are committed to playing a nationally competitive schedule for both our men's and women's basketball programs. Factors that affect our ability to schedule are many, including a reluctance by many of the top 25-50 programs to leave home (no benefit financially) and play in Diddle Arena (we have a great reputation nationally for both programs as being a very difficult place to win on the road).

The women's scheduling is easier to create and we will do all we can to make sure our non-conference schedule picks up any loss of strength that La. Tech's departure may cause. It will still be a battle for SBC supremacy as FIU, Denver, and Arkansas State (among others) all stand a good chance to give us a challenge for the top spot vacated by La. Tech.

The SBC ran a "dummy" RPI for the league without La. Tech in the conference this year to date and as a league we drop from 8th best to 11th best for women's basketball. Certainly we are not happy with a drop of three spots, however, it also reveals what we have believed all along..... SBC women's basketball is still a very STRONG conference nationally..... with or without La. Tech.

Our women are busy lining up SEC, ACC, and other national match-ups. We would like to re-start our series with Kentucky while maintaining Louisville. We could have each of them scheduled on alternating years so as to give us a great in-state rivalry home game each year.

The men's side is a little more challenging. We are no longer a push over and as such our ability to attract quality games is made more difficult. We have no problem with 2 for 1's, but we need to be careful we do not get to far out of balance with home and away games. As it looks now, the SBC will go in 2002-03 with 20 conference games so that leaves only seven non-conference games to schedule (unless legislation calling for an increase in regular season home games passes). We still want a majority of non-conference games at home, so we can not go with too many 2-for-1's.

We have some potential options brewing for the 2001-02 season that may involve Kentucky at Rupp Arena, with plenty of tickets for our fans. We also are talking with a few other SEC teams for next year (and we play Vandy in Nashville next year).

For 2002-03, our first year in renovated Diddle Arena, we have Louisville scheduled to be one of the first games and have Mississippi State scheduled that year as well in Diddle.

I understand the anchoring component that a few nationally recognized teams add to our schedule and season ticket package. I also hear loud and clear form our fans that they would rather get beat by a good team than beat a lousy team. It is a fine balancing act to try to win enough games to get a post-season bid and play a properly balanced, ambitious schedule with enough home games to help guarantee success. Playing on the road is absolutely brutal and could be worth 7-9 points for the home team, therefore home games are critical for success.

We may try and get some big name teams to agree to a neutral site (i.e. Louisville or Nashville) in an attempt to attract more nationally top ranked opponents.

Nobody wants to "go after the best" more than we do (our coaches, student-athletes, and administration). We will get there."

Q: "Why do other Universities offer incentives, like scholorships, for people to be in the pep band, but Western doesn't? Maybe we would not have the problems we have if the school offered incentives." -- question submitted by Ralph Miller (Bowling Green, Ky.)

Dr. Selig: "Thanks for your e-mail. Very few schools offer scholarships for bands and cheerleaders. I wish we had the financial resources to do so but as it is now, we offer $1.8 million a year for support of our scholarships for our 350 student-athletes who attend Western. If we had the funding, the NCAA would allow us to offer these individuals a total of $2.5 million. Obviously our coaches would really like to be able to offer the maximum allowable funding if we only had the resources. It is hard to justify offering scholarships to band members when we can not even support our own student-athletes.

We recently received a $50,000 commitment from the University to support spirit groups, most of which is directed to the band. We pay for travel, uniforms, equipment, and pay for games when school is not in session. I understand that may not seem like a lot but it represents a sizable sum of money each year. We also split fund the salary of the band director with the music department. Our support of the both the marching and pep band is considerable. Perhaps it is too bad that everyone seems to have their hand out for participation (including some student-athletes) and few are interested in just being supportive of the institution for the sake of school pride and spirit. Thanks for your e-mail and support of Western. We have a GREAT band with tremendous spirit and talents."

Q: "How much revenue will WKU make from the Wisconsin game at Madison and where will the earnings be spent?" -- question submitted by Tim Bean (Winter Haven, Fla.)

Dr. Selig: "We will net in the mid $200,000's for that game and the proceeds will be used to fund our intercollegiate athletic department and the 10 men's and 10 women's programs. Some schools give guarantees back to the particular program that generates them. We prefer to fund each program at the highest possible level and not penalize them on any given year should a guarantee game be unavailable. Thus, annual program budgets are not dependent on guarantee games but they certainly help ease the financial crunch we face each year with soaring travel and operating costs. Thanks for your interest."

Q: "I am very pleased with the progress you are making with your website. As a parent of a WKU baseball player, this media source is very important. The internet is, at times, the only source to tell us the status of a game. I would like to see you make more progress and provide live coverage of WKU baseball. We currently must depend on the opponent's internet site for this coverage. What are your plans (if any) to provide live broadcasts of baseball via the internet?" -- question submitted by Randall Comer (Kingsland, Ga.)

Dr. Selig: "We are very pleased with wkusports.com and feel it showcases all of our athletic programs unlike any other media source. Our official website goal is continual improvement and to be among the best intercollegiate athletic websites in the country. We feel we are right on target.

To get baseball games broadcast on the internet would require a local braodcast arrangement which we currently do not have. We are seeking a broadcast partner for our baseball games but that will probably not be available this season. As we continue to make the athletic strides we have made this year, opportunities for additional radio broadcasts for other WKU programs will hopefully become available.

As for now, we will pledge our commitment to post the most information is as quick a time period after the completion of a game as possible.

Thank you for your support of our baseball program. We are off to a great start and will begin a very difficult Sun Belt Conference stretch starting with last season's College World Series participant, Louisiana-Lafayette."