If the USF football team earns an invitation to a bowl game this December, as many as 500 USF students might get to go along with them.
On Wednesday, Student Government received permission to use $50,000 in unallocated reserves to subsidize the cost of travel for students attending a bowl game, should USF be sent to one. The idea, the brainchild of senate president Mike Berman, would be used to send an estimated 500 students to the game.
“We don’t know how many students we would be able to send yet,” Berman said. “Until we know where we’re playing at (we won’t know).”
The $50,000 was actually part of $400,000 that was just discovered last week.
“General accounting informed us that they discovered $400,000 that hadn’t been reported to us,” Berman said. “Once we found out, we thought of the idea and thought this would be a nice thing to do. We knew that ($50,000) wouldn’t be too much, and we want to help send students to a bowl game.”
The process of picking students is not a finalized issue yet, but it’s going to be most likely, first come first served.
“We don’t know for certain yet because we’re working with the Athletic Association about it,” Berman said. “Once they get a package together, then we will know.”
Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon thought this would be a nice gesture to the fans who have been loyal to the football team throughout the year.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Selmon said. “They’ve always been behind our program and this is very exciting. It’s also great to see us go through another season without any losses at home.”
When asked when the discount package would be made available to the public, Selmon replied the association is in a waiting to see how it pans out.
“Right now, we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Selmon said. “My main concern at the moment is making sure we get an invitation to a bowl game.”
With thousands of students, and only several hundred packages, Berman stressed that this is available to everyone and that there will be no preferences to who should go.
“There are no preferences. Everyone is going to have a chance to go,” Berman said. “It’s not our money, it’s everybody’s money. In the past, I’ve heard stories about Student Government members and what they did, but I’ll tell you this: not on my watch.”
After USF’s 29-7 pummeling of No. 25 Bowling Green, the chances of the Bulls going to its first-ever bowl game is high. USF is one of the favorites to occupy a spot in the Motor City Bowl, held in Detroit, Dec. 26. However, there is a chance that USF might be selected to go to the Honolulu Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec. 25. If the Bulls are indeed selected to attend the Honolulu Bowl, the chances of sending the fans to the game would be in jeopardy.
“If we were selected to Hawaii, the odds would be very slim to do this,” Berman said. “Also, partying would be an issue. College students are going to party at bowl games, but there is a big difference between going to Michigan in the dead of winter or going to Hawaii. Starting Monday we should have a better idea of the costs, and we’re going to try to be as advanced as possible.”
There was much work that had to be done in order to get permission to do this. But, with the success of the football team, many thought this would be great for the student body.
“The players have loved this idea,” Berman said. “This would also help the student body in reaching out to them.”
After discussion, Berman also talked to Student Government Business Manager David Armstrong and the Budget Committee to make sure this would be a go.
Also, in coming through with this idea, it might be able to persuade the bowl selection committees that USF would be able to fill seats if selected to a game, Berman said.
“That wasn’t our intention,” Berman said. “But it would be great. If it helps, that’s even better. If we could help USF get a bowl bid, that would be awesome.”
With interest in the football team rising to an all-time high, students on campus feel that this would be a great idea in promoting its athletic program.
“I think it’s really cool that USF would be doing something like that,” freshman Ashley Anderson said. “A lot of students don’t have the money to go and now they can.”
Anderson added this could help increase the school spirit.
“We definitely need the school spirit,” Anderson said. “People need to appreciate the team because of how awesome they’re doing.”
If USF did get a bowl bid, and more fans were able to go, it would also help the visibility of USF football team and put the university on the map.
“Of course being in a conference would help,” junior Walt Campbell said. “But the way they’re going at getting better and more attention, we’ll eventually be up there with Florida State University or Miami.”