Ball State’s athletic department will offer Ball State University Dance Marathon $10,000 if they can get 10,000 students to next home game Nov. 6.
The athletic department approached BSUDM late in September about Project $10,000. BSUDM is an organization that raises money for Riley Hospital for Children through a 12-hour dance marathon and other fundraisers.
Brian Hardin, deputy athletics director, said this specific game is important because it’s the only televised home game for any Ball State sport. Hardin said the game against Central Michigan University will air on ESPN2 and reach 70 million homes.
“It’s a chance for Ball State students to really show their pride and kind of put themselves on the map,” he said. “This is the one time this year where, whether you are an alumni in New York or LA, you can tune in and watch the Cardinals play.”
Hardin said they mainly chose BSUDM because of its cause and ability to appeal to people of all types across campus. Hardin, who has a son at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said he especially appreciates the cause.
“I truly, really support what they are trying to accomplish,” he said. “They stand for a lot of things that are right. They do an amazing job of bringing people together, and that’s what we want to do. We want to bring people together to celebrate Ball State at this football game.”
Zach Brown, BSUDM director of media relations, said the organization has grown in the past few years. Three years ago, the organization donated $39,000 to the hospital. Last year, that number had increased to almost $200,000.
“I think athletics took note not only of our growth, but also our presence on campus,” Brown said. “We built a really strong brand over the past four years. It’s something people want to contribute to.”
The athletic department and BSUDM’s first step to getting students to the game is awareness through social media, fliers, emails to the students and advertisement.
The next step is actually getting students into the game. The group has discussed multiple ideas, including a march from campus to the game, and also a march through the tailgating area.
The athletic department also will give away a free car and host a greek night. If a fraternity or sorority gets a certain percentage of its organization to attend, it will get to display its letters in the student section at the game.
Hardin said it won’t be easy since each game so far has averaged about 4,600 students per game. He said the opening game had 6,500 students present, the largest so far this season. Overall attendance numbers haven’t been as high this season as Ball State’s undefeated season in 2008.
“Ten thousand is a huge number,” Hardin said. “We are asking for half of the student body to come out for a game on a Wednesday night, in the middle of November, when you don’t know what the weather is going to be like. Fortunately, the team is playing really well and, knock on wood, hopefully they continue to play well.”
The athletic department had a similar goal for the Homecoming game — 20,000 fans, but fell short of that goal. Hardin said he is not discouraged by this.
“We’re not going to stop trying to dream big,” he said. “Fear of failure isn’t going to prohibit us from trying to accomplish great things here.”
Even if 10,000 students do not attend the game, BSUDM gets $1 for every student after 5,000 that attends. Even with this option, Brown said he has no doubt that they will reach their ultimate goal of 10,000 students.
“We have the right people in place,” he said. “We have an incredible executive board of 21 people and on top of that, we have the 300 most passionate students on campus. You will not find a group that cares more about what they are involved in than our committee members, our volunteers and anyone who has crossed paths with dance marathon.”