More and more now my friends and my wife and my wife’s friends and their wives and their friends will ask me something about something the athletic department has done. The general question is “Why would they do that?”
Frequently I do not have an answer. I have a gesture: Extend right hand, fold pinky and ring finger down, rub thumb in circular motion against middle and index fingers. The athletic department is a business. Has been for years, really, but the way things are now is different than the way things were even a few years ago.
With Oliver Luck in charge, change is accelerating and aggressive and the aim now is to increase earning potential in a lot of areas. There’s going to be collateral damage, but, in truth, WVU and many, many other schools have to do what they have to do.
Which brings us to this: The athletic department didn’t generate a lot of warm feelings when it suddenly introduced the revamped parking situation at the Coliseum this past season. What it did accomplish, though, was generating revenue that hadn’t been there before.
I have to admire two things about this idea. First is the unapologetic approach to the idea.
Public parking in the Coliseum had been free for basketball games. I wondered why that was and when it would change. Ultimately it did change and you saw spaces going for $20 a pop. That’s income where there had only been potential before. Yes, the money was to go somewhere to pay for something, but that’s the way it was going to be.
WVU’s reply to the griping was, in essence, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.” There was also a shuttle to take people from remote parking areas to the Coliseum … for $4.
True enough. Fair enough.
Well, now we learn WVU generated more than $150,000 from the parking plan. That’s significant. It helps. It also opens up possibilities for similar ideas all across campus — and say hello to the $10 ticket for the spring game.
The second thing I have to admire is the unapologetic approach has been followed by an apology from WVU, not for what it did, but for how it went about doing it.
He did admit, however, that the Athletic Department did a “bad job messaging and getting the word out” about the changes.
“I will take full responsibility that we didn’t get the word out early enough,” Luck said.
A press release was sent out to media members and released on the University’s Web sites Nov. 4 – one day before the first day the parking changes would occur.
“There were a handful of complaints about the messaging. In terms of the substance of charging $20 to park there, I’ve gotten two or three emails, and that’s all,” Luck said earlier this month. “I’m sure there are more people that were upset. Any time you change anything, people get upset.”