New Troy AD looks to move program into fan-friendly future

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012

John Hartwell had clocked in for only a few hours before the he found himself answering questions about the future of Troy University athletics.

Hartwell, who came to Troy after serving as the senior executive associate athletic director at the University of Mississippi, said that there are many projects on the table, but he wants to look at them from all angles before writing any checks.

“We’re going to get all the constituents back together for at least two brainstorming sessions and throw all the costs or any inhibitors out the window. We need to find, for a building we will use for the next 30 years, here’s what we want,” Hartwell said of the proposed north end zone project for Veterans Memorial Stadium.

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One of the keys for Hartwell on any expansion to the facilities at Troy University will be the growing the fan base and producing a fan-friendly environment. Hartwell says showing fans exactly what they can expect is vital.

“At the end of the day when we go to prospective ticket holders, I want them to have something in their hands that they can see and is not conceptual,” he said. “We have got to make it priority No.1 to make it user-friendly. We don’t need folks to have excuse A through D as to what’s a hindrance about them coming to games or being involved in our program.

Hartwell meet with the athletics department staff on Monday where he presented them with questionnaires, asking mostly about what works and doesn’t work in the current structure. Coaches also received a questionnaire asking for a list of three to five things needed to “consistently compete at the top of our league,” said Hartwell.

Hartwell continues to say that one tool he utilized in helping the athletic department at Ole Miss improve themselves was an end-of-the-season survey that was send to all season ticket holders and posted online.

“It’s kind of the same thing I’m doing with our coaches and staff,” he said. “Yes, the No. 1 marketing tool is winning. Winning puts butts in seats, but it has to be the fan experience. We want to make (game day) a weekend experience to where we are a destination.”

While Hartwell said the first day was like “drinking through a fire hydrant,” work is already being done to move the program forward.

“Folks are excited and eager,” Hartwell said. “We’ve got some work to do, but there’s a lot of opportunity.”