ORONO, Maine — One might expect a college president to take a few minutes to address his school’s football team after a championship victory.
On Friday afternoon, University of Maine President Paul Ferguson instead made a preseason appearance at Alfond Stadium.
With the Black Bears poised to pose for photographs and do interviews on Morse Field, Ferguson kicked off the team’s annual media day by saying a few words.
Ferguson turned out to impress upon the student-athletes his appreciation for their efforts on the field, in the classroom and in the local community as they represent UMaine.
He also tried to exhibit his support by pointing out that UMaine plans to enhance the game-day experience for football fans during the 2012 season.
I found it compelling that Ferguson would take time out of what is presumed to be a busy administrative schedule to speak to the football team. It should be a sign to the Black Bear players and coaches that he wants to help them have more of an impact.
UMaine athletics director Steve Abbott recently explained that UMaine plans to revamp its game-day setup. The aim is to give fans a more fun and rewarding experience when the Black Bears are playing on Morse Field.
Abbott said UMaine plans to move university students to the bleachers behind the visitors’ bench, which will provide the group with a legitimate student section to call its own.
The department also hopes to open up its tailgating and picnic areas earlier on game days to facilitate greater participation among fans and supporters. UMaine even is talking about bringing in some outside vendors to enhance the food offerings.
Abbott wants fans to feel more welcome by creating a family-oriented atmosphere. All that is designed to complement what is happening on the field.
Ferguson came out Friday to let the players and coaches know he wants to help them have a more rewarding experience at home games. The efforts, which reflect some of the tenets of his Blue Sky Strategic Plan, are designed to engage students on campus and fans from the Greater Bangor area and the entire state.
Bigger crowds in the stands mean more money for the athletics department and an ambiance befitting a Football Championship Subdivision program that competes in the most prominent league in the country.
Ultimately, the football team and the university must work in concert to offer their fans a successful, quality product on the field and an exciting, welcoming atmosphere surrounding the stadium.
Ferguson’s first priority at UMaine is academics, but his gesture Friday indicates he is ready to walk the walk when it comes to engagement with Black Bear student-athletes.