A Q&A With Associate A.D. Mike Richey

In a Monday (October 17th) interview Mike Richey, Mississippi State Associate Athletic Director in charge of the Bulldog Club and Ticket Operations, talks about the Bulldog Club.

How many members are there currently in the Bulldog Club?
"Right now, we have 8,200 ranked accounts. That means we have about 8,200 active members. But we know we need to be up to 11,000 to 12,000 members over the next five years."

Have you seen an upswing in folks joining the Bulldog Club since Dan Mullen has gotten here?
"I can't tell you exactly what the numbers are but where we have seen it most is in our ticket priority giving and in our ticket sales. Our ticket renewal rates are really high. And our fulfillment rate is high. Last year, our fulfillment rate was almost 96%. And through 75% of the (2010) fiscal year our collections were already at 81%. For us, to be that far along in the year and our collections to be where they are is good.

"But what is important for us to focus on now is retention because we do have people every year who join and don't renew. One of the things I think we will do after the first of the year is find out who those people are and survey them so we can find out what is causing them not to renew. My feeling is, based on the people who I have talked to, they may get a new job and move or they have a child or something else changes."

Even if something changes, since they have a Bulldog Club membership, it's easy for them to update their information online, isn't it?
"Yes they can. All they have to do is log in and update it or they can call us and we can get it done for them.

"The average gift of the people who haven't renewed this year is about $213. It's newer people and younger people. And I understand that situations change. When you are starting a new job or you just had a child, $150 a year could be a significant amount of money."

With a person's membership now online, what can a person do by way of the internet if he or she wants to increase their Bulldog Club membership immediately?
"They can log into their account through msstate.athletics.com and make a donation or purchase their game ticket and actually print it at home. They can do anything online that they could do over the phone with us or in person with us."

So, if Mississippi State wins a big game and they want to help continue that success they can immediately go online and make a donation?
"Yes. And we see that quite a bit after games. When we come in on Monday mornings we see a lot of ticket purchases over the weekend, we see a lot of donations to the Bulldog Club. It makes us a 24/7, 365 operation because we have that capability.

"When you look at the tickets that are purchased that way and the number of donations that are made that way, it is pretty significant, especially when we get close to the priority deadlines and after a big win like we had this past weekend. And that is pretty exciting to see. When someone is so excited when they watch a game and be so happy that they will flip on their computer and log into their account and make a gift that lets you know you are doing something really good."

Speaking of excitement, what kind of crowd do you expect for the UAB at Mississippi State game this weekend?
"I think we will do really well. You have so many things coming together that make it the perfect opportunity for us to have a tremendous crowd.

"First of all, it is a 6 o'clock game, which always helps. The weather is expected to be beautiful. The fact that this is the game that could get us our bowl eligibility is a big deal. And you are coming off a huge road win, which will cause some people to come just to reward the team. We are back in both polls and in the BCS poll. It's homecoming.

"Everything that could possibly happen to make someone think they should come to the game has either happened or is going to happen. If we sell out of tickets and we believe there is an additional demand for tickets, then we will make some standing room only tickets available and we will pack that stadium."

For those folks who aren't members of the Bulldog Club and would like to join how do they go about doing that?
"They can join online by going to msstate.athletics.edu or they can call our office (662-325-3074). It's really easy to do and the minimum annual amount is $100. You can make a pledge and pay later, pay all of it at once or we can even put it on bank draft or auto payment.

"I also want to stress to those people who gave in 2009 and haven't made their gift in 2010, we would really like them to make their gift. To get up to the 11,000 to 12,000 that we want to get to, that will come by retaining those people."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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