Missouri State basketball should do these 4 easy things to promote attendance | Wheeler (2024)

Missouri State basketball games haven't been much fun and there haven't been many reasons to go to games in recent years. If I hadn't been paid to attend them, I wouldn't have.

Men's basketball attendance continues to drop as it's coming off the second-least attended year in the program's history. Revenue has been impacted when improvement will be critical heading into what could be a financial challenge when the athletics program changes conferences in 2025.

That needs to change heading into a new era of Missouri State athletics. The school will have a new president, athletics director and head coach before the 2024-25 season. It will also participate in a new athletics conference for the 2025-26 season.

Lucky for MSU, it has plenty of change coming and there are many ways the school can capitalize on the excitement. In addition to the conference change in 2025-26, the Bears will have a new president and athletics director and will welcome back Cuonzo Martin as their head coach this season.

There are so many different things that can be addressed. Here are the places I'd start right now.

Celebrate Missouri State's last run through the Missouri Valley Conference while building excitement for CUSA

The university has a few unique items it can hype. The move to Conference USA will surely be one of them with the school moving to the new conference.

There's an opportunity this coming season to tap into some nostalgia with Missouri Valley Conference programs visiting Great Southern Bank Arena one last time for league games. There is a portion of the fanbase that enjoys the rivalries with Southern Illinois, Drake and others.

At the same time, MSU needs to keep its CUSA move relevant for fans before it moves next summer. There is excitement around this move, and the school needs to find a way to cash in.

Missouri State basketball should do these 4 easy things to promote attendance | Wheeler (2)

Cuonzo Martin should be featured everywhere for Missouri State

After Cuonzo Martin was hired as Missouri State's coach (again), one of the first messages I received was from a former Maroon Madness (the defunct MSU student section organization) member who said Martin constantly worked with students back in the day to try and make sure their experiences were better when they attended games.

That has to continue, and I'm sure it will. Missouri State also needs to do better at having him front and center of marketing campaigns and see that his face is all over town. This a name Springfield has loved over the last decade-plus. Every time you hear him speak, you hear a person that this city gets behind.

He hasn't been featured too heavily yet as he's tried to build his roster for this upcoming season. That needs to change soon.

Students who are trying to create a better atmosphere need to be better supported

The thing that hurt me the most from the February "Once Proud" series was hearing about the lack of communication students had with administrators and others as the new student section group, Bearpawcalypse, has tried to get itself off the ground. These kids should get every bit of support Missouri State and its resources can give.

I went to Southern Illinois and met with a few of its students who had constant communication and help from administrators and coaches. It was apparent before I got in the car and drove to Carbondale, and it continues to be apparent now with how much the school promotes basketball.

Missouri State basketball should do these 4 easy things to promote attendance | Wheeler (3)

I hadn't seen that type of promotion at Missouri State from its administration previously, but I've been happy to hear that it's trending in a positive direction. There's an ambitious group of leaders at Bearpawcalypse who said they had more communication with Kyle Moats before he left to take the athletics director job at Eastern Kentucky, along with others on campus. The next AD needs to make them a priority.

MSU has a batch of young, energized head coaches across many of its sports who have also shared social media posts of them interacting with these students. I believe we will see improvement in this area as soon as this year.

Missouri State shouldn't be afraid to take notes from others

Every road game is an opportunity to take notes on what works for other schools. It doesn't matter if that's Southern Illinois, Mizzou or elsewhere in non-conference schedules across multiple sports. Seeing the small details that keep their fans coming back could do wonders in building MSU's gameday experience.

That can be something as small as what music is played, ease of access to concessions, how often the mascots are featured and different gameday giveaways.

What Missouri State has done hasn't worked. Taking notes from others doing it well would be a worthwhile study.

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email atwwheeler@news-leader.comor X at@WyattWheeler_NL.

Missouri State basketball should do these 4 easy things to promote attendance | Wheeler (2024)
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