Alden explained the five challenges that they are going to face with their new conference, including keeping up and building upon their rich academic tradition, continuing to progress their facilities, and maintaining their excitement of the conference move through all sports for years to come.
The letter also addresses a lot of changes for next season, including unifying the gold on their uniforms and the font that's used for the numbers (changes will be revealed for the spring game), changing the field surface, as well as the midfield Tiger logo getting enlarged, and the end zone words changing from "Missouri" to "Mizzou".
The full letter can be read below.
Since November 6, 2011, we have had an entire team of folks that have worked every day transitioning Mizzou for our move to the Southeastern Conference. There was certainly a lot of work which led up to the announcement in the Fall, but the pace and inclusiveness "ramped up" significantly after that time. Tim Hickman has been orchestrating all aspects of the SEC transition and is doing a terrific job.
We have not yet completed our 2012 Football Schedule, needing one additional game to fill that 12-game slate. With the number of institutions moving conferences, and possibly continuing to move, it has been challenging to complete. Mark Alnutt, our Senior Associate Athletics Director, is responsible for all scheduling and he is working tirelessly to finalize that last game. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this process. We know that many of us set our plans for football season well in advance, and we're hopeful the schedule will be finalized soon so you can complete your calendar getting ready for Tiger Football!
When we made the decision as a University to apply and then be accepted to the SEC, we communicated very publicly how there was no question that all of us would have to "step up." Academically, socially, competitively, financially, facilities, recruiting, etc. ... all of these issues and more would challenge us to evaluate what we were doing and to keep improving in all areas. As competitors, that's what we do: seize the opportunities, challenge ourselves and commit to achieving success.
There are 5 basic areas on which we see those challenges centering:
Academically - Mizzou has been outstanding academically with our student-athletes' classroom performance. How do we not only maintain, but continue to enhance those efforts? Tuition, fees, books, room and board continue to see increased costs. We fully fund all of our scholarships - and we are responsible for paying all of those costs (with the exception of some out-of-state tuition) from our Tiger Scholarship Fund. The cost associated with our education continues to rise.
Facilities - We have some of the finest facilities in the country. It has taken us a number of years to "catch up" with those facilities to provide first-class experiences for our students, staff, fans, alums and friends. We can't "rest on our laurels;" we must continue to progress with our facilities. You will see us introducing our next phase of capital improvements in the near future, and the costs associated with those will be well worth the investment.
Awareness - While we have a tremendous presence in the state of Missouri and the Midwest/Big 12, we need to continue to promote the University nationally and internationally, and within the SEC footprint. We will be rolling out an extensive marketing effort within the next four weeks that will further introduce Mizzou nationally. The success we have seen over the past several years, and in particular the last few months, has really catapulted our brand in such a positive way. We need to keep it going.
Excite/Invite - Our immediate and long-term future is so exciting. With that excitement internally, we need to foster that expanded excitement throughout Tiger Nation. We also want to invite all of our new SEC fans to Missouri, mid-Missouri, Columbia and Mizzou. Our operations, our customer service efforts and our presentation have never been more important. What a wonderful window we have in our history to launch these types of initiatives.
Operational Costs - Higher Education has not had the current financial challenges in a long time ... perhaps ever. With decreased state support, greater challenges on our faculty and staff, significant growth in our student population and greater demands on our infrastructure, we have a need in Missouri for all of us to invest even more in Higher Education. The same is true for Athletics. While we are in no way the most important activity at Mizzou (education, teaching, research, healthcare, etc. are much, much more important), we may be one of the strongest advertising vehicles we have. We have to invest even more in Intercollegiate Athletics to continue the momentum we have experienced and our solid focus to be a self-sustaining entity at Mizzou. The costs to compete have risen and will continue to do so, particularly in the SEC ... and we need to invest to meet those challenges.
Some of the results of these considerations will give all of us the opportunity to work toward further success. It will impact all of us ... there is no doubt. We do recognize that there are costs associated with academic, social and competitive success, and it's our hope that all of us will see those costs as an investment in our future success. Changes that you will see in the next two months (there is much more information to follow!):
Ticket Prices - You will see an increase in ticket prices in football across the board, with the exception of our faculty/staff and students. Those increased prices will place Mizzou in the "middle of the pack" in the SEC. Season ticket renewals will be coming out as soon as we finalize our schedule.
Parking - We will be re-sealing a number of our lots this summer and will be specifically identifying an Accessible-Friendly Season Parking Pass lot (just outside of the NE corner of Faurot Field). Further, we will be expanding our Accessible-Friendly parking spots in Lot M and greatly enhancing our shuttle services to/from Faurot Field for those needing assistance. You will see a season parking pass cost increase relative to the number of games (i.e., 7 games would cost more than 6 games).
Football Surface at Faurot Field - We will be replacing the existing artificial surface with a new artificial surface this summer (cost is approximately $1.5M). You'll see that the Tiger logo at mid field will be slightly larger, the SEC logos will be on the field, and the diamonds in the endzones will say "MIZZOU" vs. Missouri.
Touchdown Terrace Seating - Our premium seating in the south end zone will have new seating for the 2012 season. This area will also have a few more seats ... and we anticipate it selling out for 2012.
Tiger Scholarship Fund (Priority Seating) - You will see increases in minimum donations required for each of our categories at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. Those increases will be consistent across the board. We will also expand our sections of donor seating.
4-14-12 - This relates to our NIKE Graphic Identity Group work. For over 18 months we have been working with NIKE on re-branding our uniforms, unifying our gold, updating the fonts of our lettering, etc. On April 14, 2012, during the annual Black and Gold Spring Football Game, we will formally roll out the new look for the Tigers beginning Fall 2012. There will be changes and the look will focus much more on our logo than the "block M".
Band Seating - Working with Brad Snow, the Director of Marching Mizzou, our band will move from the south end zone to the southeast corner of the student section. This will allow the sound from the band and their performances in the stands to be heard better, will allow more convenience for them going on/off the field for pregame/halftime and will increase public seating in the south end zone as well as create additional seats in the student section.
Visiting Team Ticket Allotment - We are increasing our visiting team allotment from 3,800 (approx.) to 6,000 (approx.) for 2012. We understand that SEC teams travel well, and we want to make sure we are being consistent with other schools in the SEC.
No Pass Outs - In the past, our fans have been able to enter the stadium for the game, exit during the game and re-enter the game. That will not be possible in 2012 and beyond. There will be no "pass-outs" allowed beginning 2012. Once our fans enter the game, they will need to stay in the stadium throughout the contest. If they exit, they will not be allowed to re-enter.
Grandfathering - Many years ago, folks that had been season ticket holders for a number of years were not required to be members of the Tiger Scholarship Fund. We have honored that for a long time, although the number of fans who sit in priority sections that are not members of the TSF is very, very small. However, going forward we will be phasing out the grandfathering practice. For those fans who have held their seats in priority sections for 29+ years, they will not be required to donate at the minimum TSF levels in their respective sections in 2012. In 2013, those same folks will be required to contribute at a minimum of 50% of the required level. In 2014, they will be required to contribute at 100% of the minimum. All of our fans that have been season ticket holders fewer than 29 years will be required to donate at the minimum levels of those areas. Again, this impacts a very small percentage of our fans, and we wanted to recognize the long-time loyalty for many. We also want to make sure that everyone is seeing consistency throughout the stadium.
Much more detailed information will be sent (via mail) to all of our Tiger Scholarship Fund donors and Football Season ticket holders regarding the changes listed above.
We know this is a LOT of information that we are delivering. We also know that changes are challenging for all of us. We have great students, faculty, staff, alumni, fans and friends at the University of Missouri. We appreciate everything you have done and continue to do for Mizzou ... the future looks very bright for the Tigers. All of us working together are investing in a tremendous brand focusing on our core values of academic integrity, social responsibility and competitive excellence. The University of Missouri is truly committed to respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence in all that we do. THANK YOU ... Go Tigers!