VAUGHT: Men can learn lessons from the ladies

Kentucky has been extremely innovative with its marketing for the women's basketball program and coach Mickie DeMoss and her players more than repaid the debt with their win over No. 1 Tennessee.

Kentucky has been extremely innovative with its marketing for the women's basketball program and coach Mickie DeMoss and her players more than repaid the debt with their win over No. 1 Tennessee.

But now it is time to use some of that same creativity when it comes to the men's program. Maybe that would help generate the same excitement and enthusiasm in Rupp Arena when the men play as the arena has when the women play.

Perhaps it's time to have a joint Kentucky Invitational. UK men's coach Tubby Smith has talked about wanting to bring back the UKIT. My idea isn't exactly the same, but it could have an even broader appeal.

Let the UK men and women play a doubleheader in December at Rupp Arena. Allow each women's season ticket holder to buy one ticket until 8,000 seats are gone. Do the same for those with season tickets to the men's games. Set aside 8,000 tickets for them. Then take the remaining 8,000 seats and put them on sale to the general public.

What about ticket prices? Men's games command a higher price than the women's games have. Simple. Split the difference. The women's season ticket holder would have to pay a little more, the men's season ticket holder a little less. The general public without season tickets would be glad to pay this medium range price.

It's a win-win for UK. The women have a younger, more energetic crowd. Promotions at the women's games are terrific. The music is better. The public address announcer actually puts enthusiasm into the game. Bring that to the men's game and see what it does to Rupp Arena.

It should be easy to find suitable opponents for both teams. Then make the Kentucky Invitational a big deal. Bring in some celebrity fans to promote the event.

DeMoss has done a wonderful job with her program. It's a treat to watch how hard her players play and how much they enjoy winning. They also appreciate the fans.

"Tell all the fans thanks. We could never have won without them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you," UK center Sarah Elliott said after the win over Tennessee.

If UK officials are smart, they will trot the women's team out during the men's game Sunday with Arkansas to help inspire the Rupp Arena faithful. Who couldn't be proud of what the women did against Tennessee?

Probably this idea is too innovative for Kentucky. I'll hear a thousand reasons why it can't work. But all I know is that from all I've seen, any Kentucky Invitational should include the women and their fans if UK really wants to have a special happening in Rupp Arena.


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