Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades
June 27, 2013
Each month, University of Houston Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades will answer fans' questions that have been submitted through our web site.
Mack will answer questions on a wide variety of topics involving all Houston Athletics programs and today's ever-changing world of college athletics.
To Ask Mack a question, visit this page and submit your question. Check UHCougars.com at the beginning of each month to see if your question was answered.
Thanks for all your support, and Go Coogs!
Do you think the American Athletic Conference still holds significant benefits for our University of Houston over our previous home?
Yes, I believe the American Athletic Conference holds significant benefits for the University of Houston. The benefits begin immediately in the fall of 2013 when our conference champion is an automatic qualifier in the BCS, something that has never been afforded to our football program or its conference.
In addition, the national media and TV exposure we have already started to receive with the new conference is exponentially better than we have ever received, and The American is a major factor. The University of Houston brand will be reaching homes across the nation that may have never seen the Coogs before with our conference's football and men's basketball TV deal with the ABC, CBS (Basketball) and ESPN family of networks.
The level of competition our teams across the board will now face increases which in turn elevates the value of events you and other Houston fans will have the opportunity to enjoy. In Men's Basketball, we will face perennial top-25 programs like Temple, UConn, Cincinnati and Memphis.
We are in for an exciting future, and we cannot thank Commissioner Mike Aresco and his staff enough for the work they have done. As we've always said, our goal is to place the Houston Athletics Department in its best possible position.
Obviously with building the new stadium and talks in place to update Hofheinz Pavilion, steps are being taken to help upgrade our facilities and make UH a more attractive destination.
With that being said, what else/what more will it take to get UH athletics (specifically football and basketball) back on the map as being considered and nationally respected as a Top Tier school that can compete for national championships?
Andy, you are correct; steps are being taken to upgrade our facilities and not just make UH a more attractive destination but to greatly improve our student-athlete experience. We constantly evaluate all 17 of our sports programs to see where we can improve, both on and off the field. We also evaluate our staff to make sure we have the right people in the right positions for our student-athletes to reach their maximum potential.
In today's world of college athletics, new facilities attract better student-athletes. Our recruiting classes in several of our programs have ranked among the nation's best, and we certainly want to continue that trend. New facilities are a big first step in that process.
As mentioned above, the move to the American Athletic Conference certainly will assist in bolstering our reputation and placing our brand in front of more potential followers. As we have the ability to do so, we continue to upgrade our facilities across the board to keep our department on par with the other athletic programs from our conference and across the nation.
I am a graduate of UH '75. I live in Dallas and find it difficult to see or purchase UH merchandise in 98% of stores. I do see Rice, SMU and non BCS schools represented. Hats (1 or 2) are the only products that seem to be available. It is frustrating to see other schools but not UH. Are there any additional branding or marketing in the near future?
Thanks for all you have done and will do for my university.
Bill, we understand your frustration and, over the last year, we have started to make great inroads with not just our merchandise providers but with distributors as well. We are continually expanding our product base while showing retailers that the demand for Houston gear is high enough they would be wise to carry it.
During the last two years, we increased the number of major retailers carrying UH products by about 75%. More than 200 stores carry our gear, including Target, Kohl's, Old Navy, Neiman Marcus, Goody's, Palais Royal and HEB.
This is also where you and the rest of the fan base come into play. If you are in a store and see it is carrying other schools' products but not Houston merchandise, let the management of the particular store know that Houston fans are willing to purchase UH merchandise, and they may be missing a great opportunity.
Also, let us know at this link (http://www.uhcougars.com/licensing/fan.html) so we can contact the retailer on our end to help expedite the process.
You recently mentioned that we are focusing on our 2014-2020 football schedule. Will we continue to play Rice? I can't wait for the new stadium and Go Coogs!
Thank you for your support, Kevin. I, too, cannot wait for the new stadium. Our 2014 non-conference schedule is almost set, and we will be announcing it in the near future. We just announced our 2017-18 series with the University of Arizona and are currently in final discussions with two Big 12 schools and one SEC school regarding non-conference games starting in 2015 and moving into the future. One of our goals in scheduling is to ensure our series are home-and-home affairs so we can play quality opponents at home in front of our deserving fans.
We continue to have conversations with Rice administrators about playing them in several sports in the future. With our move to the American Athletic Conference, any future Rice meetings become non-conference competitions, and both schools are working together to continue playing each other in multiple sports.
Are there any plans to provide power supply for RV parking in/around the new stadium complex?
We are currently working with our architects and construction team to determine the best size and power supply locations for RV parking around the new Houston Football Stadium.
Any plans for improved volleyball facilities in the Hofheinz Pavilion renovation?
Yes, we have looked into volleyball facilities in regards to the Hofheinz Pavilion renovation and giving the sport its own area that it deserves. At this point, we are reviewing whether to have the team compete in Hofheinz Pavilion or enhance the facility in which they are currently competing. We are working with our volleyball staff to determine what facility setup will allow its program to thrive to its potential.
Are the hard hats you wore at the ground breaking ceremony available to the public?
The hard hats are currently not available to the public as our supplier only created a limited run for the number needed for the ground breaking. Our supplier and our fan shop are currently in discussion to see if it is there is enough demand to create another run of the hard hats.
Is there an updated timeline for season ticket renewals?
There is and, as of this Q&A being posted, season-ticket holders should have received their online renewals via e-mail and printed materials by mail. We are very appreciative of our season-ticket holders' patience as we work through an unusual one-year readjustment while our new stadium is under construction.
We recently released our 2013 Cougar Pride Giving Levels and Benefits information as well as Cougar Pride Priority Parking and renewal information. To give our fans and donors additional time to review the new information, we have extended our season ticket and Cougar Pride renewal deadlines to July 9.
2014 Football season-ticket information will be released in July. This 2014 seating information will include a timeline for purchase, seating charts, pricing, seating priority and allocation information. As you make decisions regarding your season ticket and Cougar Pride renewal for the 2013 season, it is crucially important to note that seating allocation in the new football stadium in 2014 will be based off of a combination of your Cougar Pride donation, if you had 2013 football season tickets, football stadium pledges and the Cougar Pride Priority Point System.
The best way to ensure you are allocated your desired number season tickets for 2014 is to secure the same amount of season tickets for the 2013 season.
To purchase season tickets, fans can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Fans can also renew season tickets for the 2013 season online by clicking here.
I am sending this suggestion to you, as I have your 3 predecessors, having just debarked from a SWA flight into Hobby. Each day, thousands of people fly into Hobby, with the final approach directly over the UH campus, often along the West side of campus. As such, clear sightlines are always provided for the new football stadium, Hofheinz Pavilion's new white roof, and the new parking garage in between them. It would be a stroke of genius for your department to paint the interlocking UH on the Hofheinz Pavilion roof, or, a la Toyota Center, illuminate it at night. Alternately, paint "Houston Cougars" on the top of the parking garage, for a very cheap, very effective way to get the word out every day about UH to thousands of folks who wonder what that campus is below their plane.
Richard, thank you for the suggestion and know that we are well aware of the tremendous opportunity for exposure we are afforded by being in a flight path of Hobby Airport. Regarding our new practice fields, our turf field will be branded like our game field with the addition of our website, UHCougars.com, in large block white lettering along each sideline so that those flying into Houston and over our campus will know that we are The University of Houston.
Regarding the roof of Hofheinz Pavilion, that is a possibility that we are exploring in future renovations.
As far as the parking garage, we will pass along your terrific idea to representatives in the Parking & Transportation Office to see if that is feasible.
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. To submit your questions, visit this page. Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday and your summer, and I will talk with you next month... Go Coogs!