JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 11, 2009) - The East Tennessee State University Athletic Department received a NCAA grant in 2008 and is encouraged by the crowds that are coming out in force, at more than double and even triple the previous single game all-time attendance record for all nine home games of the 2008-09 season. The Lady Bucs' great play has contributed to the increase, as they hold a grip on the number one seed for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at 11-3.
The ETSU Lady Bucs joined the challenge from the NCAA to "Pack the House" in an early season match up versus the 12th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores on November 21, 2008. The attendance of 3,459 against the Commodores eclipsed last season's "Pack the House" effort that turned out 1,236 fans on Feb. 2, 2008.
The pronounced difference is attributed to the community partnerships and game day atmosphere created by the ETSU Athletic Department grant team. The grant team has focused their efforts at a grassroots level by attracting fans through new marketing and promotion plans that include partnering with local organizations and youth groups to establish a loyal fan base. They have also included more media coverage through radio, live remotes, and television appearances. This year fans have enjoyed closer player interaction, pregame tailgate parties, and poster making.
Barbie Breedlove, the Senior Associate Athletic Director and grant team leader commented on the grant team's success.
"The team and the Lady Bucs have done a tremendous job improving our attendance level and creating awareness within the community. We have partnered with local organizations as well as targeting the ETSU student body by having special promotions for them."
The grant team is partnering with Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, Upward Athletics, Lion's Club, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Hat Ladies, Mary Kay, local breast cancer support groups, and the Newcomers Club - a group that acquaints new members of the community to the area. The grant team has also focused on garnering more media coverage through radio, television, and internet.
The NCAA awarded five conferences and 12 institutions grants to grow attendance at women's basketball games. The five conferences grant recipients are the Big Ten, Conference USA, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Northeast, and Patriot League. The other 11 institutions include Arizona State, Arkansas, Columbia, Florida State, Louisville, Maryland, Oklahoma, San Diego State, Texas Tech, Washington, and Western Kentucky,
Along with Breedlove, the ETSU grant team includes Marketing and Promotions Coordinator, Sara Hacker, Assistant Director for Media Relations, Kevin Brown, Ticket Manager, Brandon Hudson, Executive Aide, Kristi Smith, and Graduate Assistant
For more information on Buccaneer athletics, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.