The Women’s Final Four Summit Inspired Opportunities Among The Challenges

When I got my first job in college athletics at 21 years old I had no idea that decisions I was making on campus in regards to Women’s Basketball affected the overall growth of the game.  When we did our Pack the Place Promotion where all tickets were $1, we actually made it that much harder for ourselves to sell tickets to the other home games at full price.  Once we figured that out, we stopped discounting and added value to the ticket instead.  If we didn’t believe Women’s Basketball was worth more than going to a movie, why would anyone else?

After making this adjustment in strategy, we continued to build the value of the ticket back up in the Northwestern community, but what we found was other universities in Chicago were selling their Women’s Basketball programs at a discounted rate, which obviously made it more challenging for us.

Then, the Big Ten Conference staff reached out to its member schools asking for help in selling tickets to the conference tournament.  Even with our ticket prices being at a respectable rate, the difference in price between regular season and postseason was significant, which made it difficult to sell the event.  And that’s when it finally clicked.  Everything is connected.  The pricing decisions I was making on campus not only affected the conference tournament sales, but the WNIT and the NCAA Championship.

Through the years, sports pros have made strides to get on the same page, but in an effort to get everyone rallying around a unified message and strategy, the Women’s Final Four Summit that was held in Nashville on Monday, April 7.  This event was open to sports professionals, students and even fans.  We came together on the largest scale as the first step in figuring out what the challenges are that keep us from moving forward in the same direction.  How can we turn these into opportunities to make positive changes?

That’s where we are today.  Gathering the feedback to identify 2-3 things we could change this year that could make the biggest impact in growing the game.  Some opportunities we heard included more access to coaches for marketing initiatives, guidance for marketing staff members in creating their marketing plans, support from athletic directors to increase buy in across the entire athletic department, creating outbound sales teams on a limited budget and identifying the brand message we can all embrace to then market together.

What do you think would make an impact for the 2014-15 Women’s Basketball Season? Comment below, tweet @TracieHitz or email me at  Click here to view the full Women’s Final Four Summit, which began with Youth Basketball, The Business of Basketball (2:37) and The State of the Game (4:30).



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