SGA votes to send basketball legislation to Athletics

In a Sept. 18 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA), the Senate voted 31-0-1 on sending an Athletic Partnership Act to Georgia State athletics and new A.D. Charlie Cobb.

How it came about

The legislation was originally proposed by SGA Vice President of Academic Affairs Sebastian Parra. It was described in writing as an “Organization of the Game” in hopes of creating an agreement with the athletics department.

SGA President Lanier Henson previously mentioned that they intend to start with basketball games for this season since the interest is already present and expressed confidence that it would be passed before the start of the season.

“We plan on working with Athletics to extend this partnership to games for the other sports, but both groups want to see how the program will work with basketball,” Henson said.

Jovan Paige, who was elected Vice President of Student Life in the most recent SGA elections, was the one who took to the podium and spoke the most about the planned legislation.

What’s in it?

The resolution would allow for student organizations the opportunity to promote themselves at Georgia State sports events. Thirty total organizations would be represented for this season at 15 men’s and 15 women’s home basketball games.

Paige said that organizations would have the opportunity to apply and that an application would be in the works. He also said that there would have to be further communication with the athletics department.

“We would have to communicate with the athletics department on how many games they will be allowing us to do so,” Paige said. “We proposed 30, but there is a likelihood that they’re already having some things prepared for some of those games.”

He said that if the athletics department approves, organizations would go through the application process. A selection committee would then select the organizations.

“The committee would be comprised of Senators, a couple of the Executive Board members and some people in the athletics department,” Paige said.

Georgia State’s men’s basketball team has a total of 13 regular season home games scheduled at the Sports Arena for the 2014-15 season as well as two home exhibition games in early November. The women’s team has 18 regular season home matchups and an exhibition against Montevallo Nov. 6.

Amendments to the Act also included a draw out of a hat with one representative from each organization that has been notified of their selection that will include the game’s date and whether or not it is a women’s game.

Paige and Parra both say this was done to lessen potential bias among organizations that may prefer to be at a men’s game over a women’s game, given that men’s basketball has a higher attendance.

The proposal also states that organizations who are allotted the opportunity to promote themselves will have a chance to explain their organization at halftime during the basketball games. The time that will be given to them would be decided at the discretion of the athletics department.

Criteria for organizations

Organizations have to meet a variety of criteria including:

· A minimum of a 2.7 GPA among the members that will attend

· A list of community service initiatives

· Promotion of the basketball game the organization will be at commencing at least one week prior to the game

· Inclusion of SGA in promotion materials as approved by Vice President of Public Relations (Camryn Bradley)

· A minimum of eight active members (each organization must have at least twelve)

· Has not been represented the previous season

Reaction from SGA

Paige felt it would especially benefit smaller organizations in terms of obtaining more exposure.

“With our basketball teams being the ‘cream of the crop’ in terms of our athletics programs, it could give them a higher profile to use the platform of basketball to get their name out there,” Paige said. “Also, it would increase attendance at women’s basketball games since some of these organizations, we assume, have some pull on campus.”

He also referenced that SGA would assist the organizations in promoting themselves prior to games.

“It’ll also help out SGA because a lot of people don’t know about the services we offer,” Paige said, “When we are offering the provision for the organization to promote the game, we’ll have something in the corner of a flyer that says ‘brought to you by Student Government Association.”

Even though SGA will start out with basketball, they intend on expanding to other sports. Paige mentioned that since football has already started that it would be too late to bring the initiative to that sport. Court and sand volleyball were also referenced as well as baseball, soccer and softball despite those three sports currently being based in Panthersville.

“It’s an ongoing challenge because of where they play,” Parra said. “I honestly, for this year, just wanted to stick to basketball and see how it goes. Next spring, we want to work with the marketing department and set up shuttles, so the Organization of the Game can go to Panthersville.”

He admitted that when he originally wrote the legislation that he only mentioned men’s basketball since they won the regular season Sun Belt championship last year. Parra says it was Paige who suggested the provision about the amount of women’s and men’s games.

“I want to commend [Vice President of Student Life] Paige since he was the one who had the idea of increasing attendance at women’s basketball games,” Parra said.

According to Parra, SGA met last year with Georgia State Assistant Director of Marketing, Parker Hendricks about increasing school spirit on campus. He says the proposal is modeled after how Greek organizations appear at events.

“If a sorority shows up at a basketball game, the fraternity will appear as well to support them and vice versa,” said Parra.

One senator abstains

All but one member of SGA voted in favor on sending the legislation to the athletics department. The lone holdout was Senator Justin Brightharp of the College of Arts and Sciences, who abstained. Brightharp contends that the requirement for organizations to fulfill a GPA requirement is overreach.

“I feel like if you bring in other members, it’s a little personal because they’re just going to a game and they’re talking about their organization,” Brightharp said. “It’s not like they’re running for an elected position like SGA. I just don’t agree with the requirement to have to be at a certain GPA.”

Brightharp did agree with the caveat in the legislation that organizations had to have displayed community service initiatives.

“I thought [the community service requirement] was a good idea since it asks the organizations what are they doing in the Georgia State community,” Brightharp said. “But to have a collective GPA because you don’t want to single out one group member is something I don’t like. They said out of 12 people, only eight can go. So, if one group member had a bad semester, they can’t represent their organization at a game. I don’t agree with that.”

Reaction from Athletics

The reaction appears to be different from the athletics department. Matt Newhouse, the assistant A.D. of marketing for the Georgia State athletic department, said that everyone from Cobb on down has given their seal of approval to the plan.

“We’re really excited about it,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said that the conversations between the athletic department and SGA dated back to the previous president, Andrew Whyte and have been engaged in numerous conversations with President Henson.

“This would be a great opportunity for organizations to promote themselves and the philanthropy that they engage in,” Newhouse said. “This will also help graduates who are in organizations who are looking to get hired after graduation.”

According to Newhouse, one thing that organizations will be allowed to do is sit in the seats on the opposite ends of the Sports Arena behind the basketball goals. He also says that there will not be any concerns with conflicts with sponsor promotions.

“There may be an opportunity for the organizations to promote themselves during media timeouts. It’s also possible that they may be able to do that during pregame. Ideally, they may have anywhere from 15 seconds to two minutes if it’s during halftime,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse agreed with SGA that basketball was a good place to start with the outreach given their success last season. In addition, he felt it would be beneficial if they were to expand it to other sports.

“Sororities were at the sand volleyball games. They also did a bake sale at the baseball and softball games recently. Our goal is to expand this beyond basketball and beyond campus into Panthersville,” Newhouse said.

Organizations having the chance to promote themselves during the winter break will possibly also face a drop in attendance. The men’s basketball team averaged nearly 2,100 fans at the Sports Arena last season, but drew 1,477 Dec. 14 against Old Dominion, 1, 893 Dec. 20 when they played Georgia Southern, and 1,436 Jan. 2 vs. Troy.

The concerns of attendance dropping during the winter break did not seem to worry Newhouse as he said that it was something that is out of the control of Georgia State and SGA.

“It happens across the country during the holiday season,” Newhouse said. “We spend a lot of time reaching out to charitable organizations that helps our attendance. Kids have the opportunity to meet Pounce for the first time. Which games the organizations will be able to do will be the luck of the draw and attendance dropping is entirely out of control.”