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Mike Bobinski Answers Fans' Questions

March 31, 2014

Georgia Tech director of athletics Mike Bobinski fielded questions from fans and answers a number of them in the video above and additional questions below.

In the video, Bobinski addresses his assessment of men’s and women’s basketball’s recently completed seasons (1:38), the upcoming football season (4:45), evaluating coaches (7:25), attracting international students to sporting events (8:50) and volleyball coaching hire (10:45).

In addition to the video, here are some more questions Bobinski answered:

How will you pay down or eliminate the debt to allow the GTAA to be more flexible and maybe even address the long term needs of the football stadium in a way that also maximizes quality seating (and thus income for the GTAA) in the distant future? (Jeremy from Spartanburg, SC) 

I’m asked pretty regularly about our finances and specifically about the impact of our long term debt obligations.  At all but a handful of schools across the country, financial challenges exist and the need to operate with great fiscal responsibility is of the highest importance.  We certainly work hard to do so and an integral part of that is a debt management plan established when the current bonds were issued.  That plan is being executed and is performing as designed, with the impact on our annual operations significant, but no greater than anticipated, and manageable as we move ahead.

Future improvements to Bobby Dodd Stadium, or any of our facilities, will require a sound and self-funding financial model.  Private funding, in the form of charitable donations, or new and reliable revenue streams that can be reasonably expected to cover the cost of any projects will be necessary.  I’m confident that any truly essential facility improvements will be achievable in the years ahead.

Are there plans to add soccer or any other sports in the future? (Valerie from Gainesville)

That’s a good question and the short answer is no, there are no current plans to add any new sports.  Our primary focus is on attempting to more fully support the 17 varsity sports we currently offer and ensure that we’re providing each of them a championship-caliber opportunity.  

That being said, we are always evaluating the competitive environment and other relevant factors, including our undergraduate male/female enrollment ratios, to ensure our current sport offerings are appropriate and in accordance with regulatory requirements. If at some future date we do consider new sport offerings, a key consideration will be access to, or the availability of space for practice and competition facilities. That will be a challenging proposition, as unoccupied space on campus is limited and any athletic needs would have to be considered in the context of all other Institute priorities.

How do you plan to get better student attendance at games? Better attendance in general? (multiple entries)

I talked a little bit about this in the video, but I do want to emphasize that student support and engagement is a hugely important part of an energized and successful game day on The Flats. We have great student leadership at GT and we’ve made concerted efforts to communicate and involve them in the decision making process as we establish student focused programs and policies.  We implemented a student rewards program based on attendance this past year, and with the help of our partner IMG College, have stepped up promotional efforts to engage students and encourage them to attend athletic events.

Our undergraduate student strategy begins the day they step on campus for orientation (FASET) and continues through offering season ticket discounts for recent graduates.  We’re also working to better engage our graduate students and their families.

From a general attendance perspective, it’s our objective to create a welcoming and enjoyable experience from the moment you purchase a ticket to the time you leave campus after an athletic event.  Our 2013 football attendance increased year over year by 10%, which was the 8th highest amongst major conference teams.  We hope to continue that momentum in 2014, and have gotten a lot of positive feedback to our new slate of season ticket benefits. 

 Renewals are moving at a good pace, but we won’t be satisfied until our fan base expands to the level needed to create an electric environment at Bobby Dodd Stadium on game days. I’ve encouraged our staff to be creative and innovative in their thinking as we look to welcome returning and new fans to campus in the fall.

Why have we stopped broadcasting women’s basketball games? Also why don’t we have more real-time updates on the GT app for women’s sports? (Amy from Atlanta)

All women’s basketball games were broadcast on WREK radio this past year, and they were also streamed online free-of-charge. Another 10 games were either televised or on ESPN3 this past season, and those broadcast decisions lie solely with the ACC’s media partners. I encourage you to always check the schedules on RamblinWreck.com for complete broadcast information.

Not every sport offers a real-time data feed for publishing, but we do our best to provide in-game updates to our fans via Twitter. Also, we launched a RamblinWreck.com redesign last fall, and we’re in the process of updating our mobile app offerings for a summer launch.  We strive to offer as much information about our events as possible and to maintain a strong presence on all available platforms.

Will we see the return of the Georgia Tech Spring Caravan? (Jim in Senoia)

We are not currently planning to reinstate the caravan in its previous format, as the time and schedule constraints became difficult to manage. We’re working on some other events in the spring and summer for fans to interact with our coaches and administrators. We want to focus our efforts on reaching as many fans as possible whether it’s in person, online or in other ways. Stay tuned for more on this.

Are there any discussions on changing the ACC football scheduling model to rotate the schools currently in the Atlantic division teams more frequently? (Gordon in Marietta)

The football scheduling model is a topic at every ACC meeting and with the expansion of our league I’m sure it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Currently, the model involves playing every division opponent (six total), one permanent crossover (Clemson) and a rotating opponent from the other division, for a total of eight conference games. Notre Dame is also now in the ACC scheduling rotation as a non-league opponent; we’ll travel to South Bend in 2015 and have a home game with them somewhere in the following 3-4 years.

There are NCAA rules related to divisions and conference championships that helped form the current model. As the landscape changes and the new College Football Playoff gets underway next season, ACC leadership will continue to evaluate the best strategy for a conference schedule. From a personal standpoint, I think it would be great if we could ultimately rotate through the teams in the other division more frequently.

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