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Andy Baggot: Old-fashioned State of the Program presentation to fans would be best for Badgers

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Barry Alvarez photo

UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez watches UW football practice at Camp Randall Stadium on Aug. 19, 2013.

If you’re on the ticket-selling side of college athletics and you’re not obsessed with the Next Big Thing in customer service, you’re in serious trouble.

Enhancing the fan experience — whether it’s WiFi access in stadiums and arenas, interactive social media platforms, music playlists, in-game promotions or expanded concession menus — is what it’s all about these days.

The game is important, of course, but the experience can be diminished for many spectators if it doesn’t include selfies, texts, a Vine or two and a vegan brat.

The University of Wisconsin Athletic Department is trying to stay near the cutting edge of all this, especially as it pertains to technology. Kevin Kluender, the award-winning marketing director, recently gave an impressive presentation to the UW Athletic Board about how the school benefited from social media exposure during the NCAA Final Four run by the men’s basketball team.

Everyone is looking for that cutting edge in customer service and UW Athletic Department officials are no different.

But what if there’s an effective old-school way that no one at 1440 Monroe St. has tried before, one that’s sure to enhance goodwill between UW Athletics and its customers?

It would be a cutting-edge tool to boot because few, if any, NCAA athletic departments are doing it.

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez should set a date this summer and invite season-ticket-holders, regardless of sport, to a State of the Program presentation at the Kohl Center.

Yes, this idea has been floated here before. Yes, it’s a takeoff on the stockholders’ meeting the Packers stage every year at Lambeau Field.

But until someone gives me a good reason why it can’t — or won’t — be done, I’ll continue to suggest it as long as ticket sales represent the biggest source of revenue for UW Athletics.

Now is the perfect time to start something like this because so much is happening in the world of college athletics and it would be helpful to get a local insider’s perspective.

What about the state of the NCAA? What’s going to happen when — not if, when — the five biggest conferences, including the Big Ten, split from the pack and live by a new set of guidelines?

What about all this talk about student-athletes as union laborers? What about the call for paying players?

What about these transfer rules that seem inequitable? What about these lawsuits regarding the use of personal images?

What about conference realignment and expansion? Is there more to come in the Big Ten after Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers?

All this is going to affect UW Athletics is some fashion and the people paying the freight should have access to the best information possible.

Alvarez should have his senior staffers and key supervisors outline their roles — academics, compliance, human resources, sports medicine, communications and food and beverage — and take questions if necessary.

Alvarez should give an overview of the department — the finances, the accomplishments and the to-do list — and take questions if necessary.

If Alvarez wants some, or all, of his coaches involved, the more the merrier.

It should be noted UW Athletics solicits input from season-ticket-holders through annual surveys. It also recently introduced a 25-person fan committee that meets to discuss issues, ask questions and offer suggestions on policy. So it’s not like there’s a moat between UW Athletic Department administrators and Badgers fans.

But in these times where customer service innovations are trumpeted, how about something old-fashioned such as talking face to face?

Contact Andy Baggot at abaggot@madison.com or 608-252-6175.

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