In a bold move to drive up attendance at sporting events, USD Athletic Director Jon Schemmel has introduced a new incentive to increase student attendance at games. At each basketball game, Schemmel will personally offer a cash reward when specific attendance goals are achieved.
The incentive began with the goal of seeing 200 students in attendance. If that goal was met, a randomly selected student would have the chance to take a half-court shot. Successful attempts would be met with a $1,000 cash prize from Schemmel himself.
For every half-court shot missed by a student at a game, the distance between the half court mark and the hoop will be shortened by one full step forward. Meaning that the more students who miss their shot, the easier it will be for students to win money at the next game.
The prize aimed not only to boost event attendance but also to inject an element of unpredictability and excitement into the school’s sports culture.
Schemmel isn’t alone in his cash prize offer to students: Vermillion Mayor Jon Cole has agreed to match Schemmel’s offer for each game if an additional 50 students are in attendance.
Cole hopes that others will see what he and Schemmel are doing to aid attendance numbers and will themselves aid in raising the prize money even more.
“I’ve been hoping that if I join, other key community members might jump in as well,” Cole said.
Cole believes this incentive has increased the number of students in attendance, however the goals have still not been met for every single game, which Cole says is the same as “leaving the money on the table.”
Both Cole and Schemmel will keep the prize money running until the last basketball regular season home game.
Cole hopes that his contribution will have a lasting effect on the attendance of USD sporting events. He thinks that a large student attendance can have positive impacts far beyond athletics.
“Students being at all the games helps not only the athletes, but it also makes the experience that more enjoyable for all. When the crowd is large and exciting, it drives attendance up,” Cole said.
Cole said game attendance helps the community and encourages growth.
“Who knows, maybe a new business owner will want to invest in Vermillion after attending an exciting game and seeing all the energy,” Cole said.
The men’s basketball team will play at the SCSC on Thursday, February 8 against the Denver Pioneers at 7 p.m.