Not only does Winthrop Intelligence help ADs increase revenue and athletic programs to be more competitive, but the Win AD database also assists athletic staff throughout an administration to increase personal productivity and make better, more informed recommendations. We are interested in hearing from staff who use the database to their strategic advantage, for career advancement, and about innovative uses of the system that provides tangible, university-wide benefits.
Ryan Matthews, Winthrop’s Managing Editor, chatted recently with Vince Otoupal – Athletics Director at Utah Valley University – about growing revenue, fan engagement and how Vince is getting value from Win AD.
Name one mentor who had a significant impact on your career and why.
I’m going to have to go with Coach Bill Walsh on that one. He was obviously well-renowned for his abilities as a football coach and a winner, but what really impressed me—and it made a huge impact on me, my life, and the way I try to do my job—is the way that he treated student athletes. The way that he approached, not only football, but also the academic part of being a student athlete.
Coach Walsh’s treated us, the student athletes, like young men that he was molding, giving us the ability to hopefully make the right decisions. He held us accountable for those decisions—both good decisions and bad, that sometimes 18 to 22-year-old kids make. But Coach Walsh was the mentor that really had an effect on me as an administrator, as a man, and at this point in my life as a husband and a father.
What initiatives are Utah Valley engaged in to increase fan engagement, and what has been the outcome there?
You know what? We’re going to find out what the outcome is! We had our first alumni soccer game here last weekend, and there were over 300 people, which was great. Now, tonight, we’ve got our volleyball alumni game, which is something we’re really looking forward to. But as far as initiatives go, we need to continue to reach out to our students.
We’re putting some of the responsibility and accountability, as we’ve just discussed, on our student athletes to put an effort into forming relationships, not only with their fellow students—who will help fill the stands—but also with their professors. They need to develop those relationships, as students in the classroom, but also to invite those professors to the games. We’ll have more interaction there and a better fan experience, more overall engagement from the school.
Where do you see incremental revenue opportunities for Utah Valley, and how are you pursuing them?
If we can continue to put folks in the stands, that helps with concessions, that helps with parking, but also we are reaching out into the community. I need to do a better job of getting to Rotary and getting to the Chamber of Commerce to get people to games. If you get people to the game, you have a better chance for some revenue.
I’m meeting with one of the local mayors this afternoon to try and get some more folks to games. We’re restructuring our Pepsi contract, which is a good opportunity, and also our Adidas contract. Both of those companies have been very, very good to us.
There are other things that we can do a little bit more proactively to try and increase those revenue opportunities through corporate sponsorships. We just had our golf tournament. That’s not necessarily a fundraiser. That’s more of a friend-raiser. But having those people get to meet our student athletes and coaches, that helps.
Concessions is a big one for us, the parking is a big one for us, and some of our coaches are even having youth camps. We’re not charging people anything, but we’re hoping that they will come to games. In the summer we have the camps that we charge for, but during the school year, we have half-day camps for people to come, get to know us, and hopefully come to games.
What sport at Utah Valley do you feel is on the cusp of having a breakout season?
Men’s soccer. We are the only Division-I men’s soccer program in the state of Utah. Now this year we’re going into the WAC, and we’re going to see what our basketball teams do and our baseball and softball teams, and our track team. But on the cusp—it’s going to be men’s soccer.
We’ve got nine men’s soccer players here in school this year, and they’ll start competing in the WAC next fall. Like I said, being the only Division-I men’s soccer program in the state of Utah is going to be a big thing for us. We just redid our bleachers at the soccer stadium and we’re really looking forward to going from the cusp of success into the realm of success. We’re going to do great things with the men’s soccer program.
If a peer were considering subscribing to Win AD, what might you tell him or her about your experience, and how has Win AD helped your transition?
I would say do it as fast as you can. There is so much great information there. When you arm yourself with the knowledge that Win AD provides, you’re better at your job. You have the ability to do better things: better things for your coaches, better things for your student athletes. So I would say, sign up as soon as you can and start learning that information. Start being able to use that information.
At Utah Valley I know they have used Win AD quite successfully, and extensively, to help in the transition and to get Utah Valley to where they are today in the WAC and as a Division-I program. They’re the only—and will be the only—institution that went from a J.C. to a Division-I program in NCAA history. That will never happen again. That transition couldn’t have happened without the information and the relationship that Win AD provides.
As we’ve talked about, we’re going to restructure the Adidas contract and our concessions contract with Pepsi. Without the Win AD information, we’re not able to do those things. We need it in order to continue to do good things for our coaches and for our student athletes.