Rutgers Gives Fans Stronger Voice

Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann and her staff desire a stronger voice for the fan base. Announcing a 25-member Fan Advisory Board Wednesday afternoon, the Rutgers athletic department seeks direct contact with its fans next year in a focus group capacity.

Who better to enhance the fan experience than the fans themselves?

The Rutgers athletic department announced Wednesday afternoon the chance to do exactly that with the creation of a Fan Advisory Board.

Now accepting applications online here, the board models itself after a successful program built at Wisconsin.

“I was at a conference this summer and heard a senior associate AD from Wisconsin present about a fan advisory board,” said Andrew Robinson, Rutgers assistant athletic director for creative services and fan experience. “I picked his brain quite a bit. We looked at their model and the best practices and it just so happens we’re also Big Ten brothers, so it works really nicely.”

The search process is underway with a capacity of 25 fans on the upcoming committee. Applications close on Dec. 17 with an announcement coming after the holiday season.

Rutgers aims to begin quarterly meetings in early 2015.

“What we hope to get out of it is a couple of different things,” Robinson said. “We’re continuing to show fans that we’re listening. We’re open and listening to their feedback to enhance their experience at Rutgers events. Some of the best ideas come from focus groups like that.”

Pre-existing status with the athletic department, donation levels and occupations will play no role in what is an independent search for members.

“We’re creating 25 new ambassadors for Rutgers,” Robinson said. “… We’re open to having people from all walks of game day available to discuss their different experiences with the fan advisory board. We could have somebody from parking coming, tickets, traffic, it’s all of interest.”

A selection committee makes reviews all applications this month, focused on fans from diverse backgrounds.

"We want to make sure that there's a wrestling fan, a men's basketball fan, women's lacrosse, you name it," said Geoff Brown, senior associate athletic director and chief marketing officer. "I want season ticket holders to people that come to one game a year. What I don't want is all [of them to be] scarlet lot people for football."

Robinson, Brown and the Wisconsin influence spear-headed the campaign, but athletic director Julie Hermann aided in the project, Brown said.

"She's been great," Brown said. "From the second we started talking about it, she has been helping us and guiding us to find the best way to put this thing together."

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