Jaguar Sports: Looking Beyond the Horizon

Jawz the mascot cheering on men’s basketball (Courtesy of IUPUI)

IUPUI is known for many interesting, unique features like the annual Regatta and our increasingly diverse student population. Athletics, however, are not at the top of that list. IUPUI has recently joined the Horizon League athletic conference and the IUPUI athletic department is hopeful that this promotion will lead to more of a sporting culture on campus and in the community.

With around 37,000 students, IUPUI is the state’s third largest 4-year college. IUPUI has 18 division 1 athletic programs. Indianapolis is known for being a sports city with professional football and basketball programs as well as a racetrack of international fame. It seems like these ingredients would make up the perfect recipe for a thriving collegiate sports program, but it has not turned out that way.

IUPUI’s largest sporting attraction is the men’s basketball team with an average attendance of about 1000 fans. In second is the women’s basketball team with about 600 average attendees. For context, Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette has about 5,000 more students than IUPUI, but their average men’s basketball attendance is about 13,500 and the women’s attendance is about 8,500.

When asked about his views on IUPUI athletics, senior and sports journalism major Alijah Landing expressed interest about going to games, but reported that he had not been to one, citing a lack of information and advertisement as chief reasons why.

“Even sports that would be of interest to me,” explained Landing, “I wouldn’t even know where to catch them.”

With sporting event attendance numbers a fraction of those of even smaller colleges like Butler University, it would seem that Landing is not the only on with this experience. Landing went on to say that awareness, convenience, and low cost would all be principal factors that would make him more likely to attend games.

Sports Information Director Taylor Alward (Photo courtesy of IUPUI)

So why is IUPUI not garnering the same amount of attention as other state schools, and what will it take to change that? That’s what Taylor Alward and several other members of the IUPUI athletic department are working on. Alward is one of the most recent additions to the team, taking his position as sports information director in September 2017.

“Pretty much my whole life has revolved around sports in some shape or form,” Alward said.

Before he came to IUPUI, Alward worked as a communications assistant for the American Athletic Conference in Rhode Island. Alward is hoping to use his knowledge and passion for sports to make a difference here at IUPUI. As sports information director, Alward is responsible for issuing press releases, game recaps and previews, as well as media coordination for Jaguar volleyball, swimming and diving, women’s basketball, softball and men’s and women’s tennis.

According to Alward, the main goal of the athletic department right now is to spread awareness of the many different sporting events going on all throughout the academic year. Alward believes that IUPUI moving to the Horizon League from the Summit League will help draw more attention to Jaguar athletics.

“One of the biggest goals around here is to show that we are one of the top schools in the Horizon League,” Alward said. “We have moved into what we believe is a better conference, the prestige is there, and it’s more regionally known.”

Since IUPUI has joined the Horizon League in the summer of 2017, the Jaguars have already made their presence known. The IUPUI women’s soccer team won the horizon league tournament, and the women’s basketball and volleyball teams both finished second in the league in their premier seasons.

This early success bodes well for these teams in a new conference and is hopefully foreshadowing of future successes and growing attention for the hard-working student athletes at IUPUI. If you would like to attend an IUPUI sporting event, you can find out everything you need at Jaguar sporting events are free to students, and a great way to show our classmates our support and build a closer community here at IUPUI.

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