Athletic marketing misses scoring opportunities
The Athletic Department has fixed on the wrong
target. It's their marketing that needs fixing, not the Minuteman.
When the football stadium was built, the department erected a
wooden sign, worthy of a third-level high school, facing Route
116 to advertise football games. They let it rot away and fall
over, leaving a rusted metal frame still visible from the highway.
Nothing has replaced it for years. At the same time they have
failed to use the huge expanse of stadium wall facing Route 116,
and a similar wall facing the stadium's mall entrance that should
have big Minuteman signs on them. The UMass crew team's shed by
the Connecticut River can be seen from Route 9 and should have
had a sign long ago.
Marketing opportunities have long been missed on other University
properties. The tall chimneys at the power plant should at least
have an "M" letter that could be seen for miles. The
UMass orchard in Belchertown has directional signs on both Routes
9 and 181 that do not even mention the University. UMass has a
building whose end and one side are visible to millions of people
driving to Cape Cod via the interstate extension leading to the
Bourne Bridge. It is the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station --
with no sign.
Over the years I have repeatedly pointed out these missed opportunities
to campus administrators whose jobs include marketing and advancement,
but to no avail. Tired of their indifference, I spent a couple
of years of lobbying, with help from Sen. Rosenberg and Rep. Story,
to get Mass Highway to erect the UMass directional signs on the
north and southbound lanes of I-91 a few years ago. UMass could
be included on the Mass Highway's blue "attractions"
signs on I-91 if someone would take the initiative.
Considering how successfully Virginia Polytechnic Institute has
marketed a symbol understood by few, called a "Hokie,"
our Athletics Department ought not to say they cannot market the
well-known Minuteman until they have tried.
JOSEPH S. LARSON
Natural Resources Conservation
Athletes should be proud of Minutemen
Regarding the administration's intention to dump
the Minutemen: Is it marketing or gender or both? The print media
have suggested that gender is an issue. If so, I would raise the
matter of athletes being more concerned about themselves than
what they represent. Did Jessica Lynch object to being called
a soldier? I don't think so. All student-athletes should be proud
to represent the Minutemen, what they stand for and what they
mean to the Commonwealth.
Dumping the Minutemen might bring in more marketing money, but
my not insubstantial donations to athletics would cease.
Athletic director Ian McCaw replies:
Thank you for taking time to share your feelings
with regard to the Minuteman. There has been much discussion about
this issue the past few weeks, which I believe has been quite
healthy for the process.
Past UMass athletic teams have been known as the Statesmen, Aggies,
Redmen (1948) and since 1972, as the Minutemen. When the student
body voted to call its athletic teams the Minutemen, the campus
sponsored 15 varsity sports for men and only two for women. Today,
some 52 percent of our student-athletes are female and we provide
12 intercollegiate programs for women and 10 for men.
With the landscape of our athletic program changing considerably
over the past 30 years and in an effort to generate new revenue
streams for our program, New York City's Phoenix Design Works
was retained to evaluate all logos and marks currently used by
our 22-sport program and recommend changes if needed. As part
of this review, Phoenix Design looked beyond the current use of
the Minuteman logo.
Eighty-five individuals (47 men, 38 women) participated in one
of eight focus groups held by Phoenix on campus, April 24-25.
Those groups were presented with a variety of new Minuteman designs
as well as an example of an animal mascot (wolf). The focus groups
included members of the student body, Alumni Association members,
UMass Athletic Fund contributors, head coaches, senior staff and
student-athletes currently in the department and members of other
The University is still in the review process as it studies the
feedback it has received not only from the focus groups, but from
other sources, too. At this point, we are continuing to review
various illustrations and alternatives and remain on track to
complete this project by the end of May.
It has been wonderful to see that so many of our alumni and friends
are passionate about the University and its athletic programs.
All of us look forward to a successful outcome that will provide
an identity system that is embraced by the entire UMass community
that also affords us longevity and marketability.
Winning team sells better than a winning look
I just saw your article regarding possibly changing
the mascot to (among other things) increase merchandise revenue.
It would be nice if Ian McCaw focused on more important things
- things like creating winning teams. It's no surprise that "Our
licensing royalties in the early '90s were upwards of about $400,000
a year," and "Now they're about $100,000 a year."
The early '90s was the last time UMass had a winning team in a
program with national appeal (basketball). A number one basketball
team tends to sell merchandise regardless of what's on it. Not
surprisingly, losing programs sell no merchandise regardless of
what's on it.
Class of '90
Dropping Minuteman is 'inappropriate'
As an assistant professor of radiologic technology
at Ivy Tech State College, a medical professional and ignoring
the risk of sounding like a Midwestern redneck, I feel compelled
to tell you how I feel about the proposal to change the school
symbol of the white, male Minuteman with a (gasp!) firearm, to
It is inappropriate to do away with a "traditional"
symbol of an American Minuteman and to replace it with an animal.
Terre Haute, Indiana
In the spirit of learning from our profound intellectual
differences, let's be the Minutewolves.
Gray Wolves? Sounds like a bunch of aging lotharios.
Cactuses or cacti?
Your recent news column article on Professor [Thomas]
Boyle (May 9) was entertaining and an enjoyable read. However,
the correct plural form of the word cactus is cacti.
Class of 2003
While the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists both
"cacti" and "cactuses" as acceptable plural
forms, the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual -- the
standard for newswriting -- states that "cactuses" is
the correct plural.