New game-day experience at Indiana games

Tonight’s game will be the second chance for fans to experience several changes the Indiana athletics department has made to the pre-game and in-game festivities surrounding the men’s basketball games.

There’s a new music track prior to games and a short ceremony conducted by the cheerleaders meant to engage fans. There’s also more interaction during games.

Assistant athletic director for external operations Frank Cuervo sat down with Herald-Times reporter Chris Korman to discuss the changes.

QUESTION: Can you explain the process you went through while making these changes?

ANSWER: We have traditionally had a very classic, collegiate feel. And that’s great. Our fans like that. I think our players, our coaches, our supporters have come to expect that. But in the same respect I think it’s a good idea to take the best of the best of what others are doing, what’s new and out there, and combine it with what we do and have the best overall feel. It’s kinda two different schools of thought. There are some of our fans that come strictly 100 percent for basketball. And for those fans, that’s still there. The basketball is still there. But then we also have a sect of our fans, namely our students — 50 percent of Assembly Hall is students — that want a little bit more out of their entertainment dollar or their time. So we try to bring a little bit more to the table, whether it’s popular music that’s on the radio today or doing fun things on the court or even silly things like doing the wave. It’s another way to engage fans and get them into it.

QUESTION: How did you decide what changes to make?

ANSWER: It’s a copycat business. You see something you like and you implement it. Other things you just take ideas or have original thoughts and tweak it to make it fit here. There’s no magic to the process. The other important thing is that it’s ongoing. It’s not an issue of peeling back all the layers and reassembling it and saying “Well, we’re done.” There’s always going to be things that change. You want to keep it fresh. Probably the worst thing you can do is to have something the same game in and game out. Your fans know what to expect, there’s no element of surprise.

QUESTION: What has the reaction been like so far?

ANSWER: I think a lot of people liked it. They recognized that there were certainly some new elements. There are some folks that were set in their ways and liked it one certain way and it’s going to take some time to get acclimated. Coach (Kelvin) Sampson has a good line: Everybody wants progress, but nobody wants change. That’s the thing. We used to play basketball on a dirt floor but that obviously changed, and that’s for the better. We feel like there are ways to keep the classic, collegiate feel, implement some of the new items and make it the best of both worlds.

33 comments

  1. Can someone please tell Mr. Cuervo that a lot of us (and I am a student) don’t like the new changes? What makes the atmosphere great at IU is the college tradition: the students’ spirit feeding off the team, the cheerleaders leading cheers, and the band playing the fight songs and other tunes. Piping in recorded music makes the atmosphere like and NBA game, which is not nearly as exciting as what we have had at IU. You want an NBA game, go get Pacers tickets.

    Some things that need to change:
    1. The band needs to play as much as they used to
    2. The beginning cheerleader pep rally needs to go. It doesn’t work at football games, and it doesn’t reallly work at basketball games either. Fans will cheer for the team, not the cheerleaders.
    3. The NBA pump-it-up music doesn’t do it for everybody, either. If he wants the place to be louder, he should find a way to get the alumni off of their hands and on their feet more of the time. “Final Countdown” probably won’t do that trick.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for the great blog!

  2. I too and a student and HATE the changes this new “operations” guy has no clue what the student body enjoys at the basketball game.

    Bring back the band!!!!

  3. What he really needs to do is implemen a student
    section near the floor! Why should students sit in
    the rafters?? I can’t believe that IU doesn’t already
    accomodate students this way.
    Look at Duke – do you not think those crazies make
    a difference during the game? I’m not saying we have
    to be obnoxious, but I do think the students deserve
    their own cheering section.
    And I agree with letting the band play more!

  4. I am glad Cuervo thinks the best way to gauge the students is by seeing what is done at other schools and not TALKING TO THE STUDENTS. Sounds like he fits in with the rest of IU athletics. Also — what’s up with “Jump Around?” This is Indiana, not Wisconsin. Bring back the band and the song they played last year!

  5. I am also a student and think this “new” pre-game, NBA stuff is CRAP!!! Please get it through this idiots head that part of the fun, and also one of the things that makes college ball better, is the PEP BAND! Hopefully this dude isn’t around too much longer.

  6. What does Mr. Cuervo mean by, “It’s a copycat business”? If you want to progress, do it forward and not laterally. This is IU with IU traditions. I can just see Purdue coming into Assembly Hall and seeing the same “Pregame Hype” that they have traditionally done at Mackey Arena. Earn your paycheck Cuervo and try to be a little creative. Keep in mind, IU has a strong, proud tradition as it is. Trying to fix something that isn’t broken can be very risky.

  7. Just think students, the $30 athletics fee you pay helps to this mans approx. 100k salary. It’s nice to know that you get what you pay for huh?

  8. Mr. Cuervo must be new in town. If people want this kind of atmosphere they should go to the circus or an NBA game. The hype is a distraction to the product on the floor.

  9. Mr. Cuervo has a bad idea — and, I would guess he has little knowledge of IU basketball. Change is not always progress. Drop this nonsense right now.

  10. I don’t know where Mr. Cuervo came from or how long he has been around, but it is clear that he doesn’t understand much about IU sports and its fans. Kill the canned music. This is IU not the NBA. If we wanted the NBA experience we would go to Pacer games, not IU games. We have one of the greatest pep bands in the country, let them play. We also don’t need a cheerleader with an irritating voice screaming at us. As to the wave, the fact that it only went around about twice before the fans killed it is an indication that it is not going to catch on. Maybe we should look at outsourcing Mr. Cuervo’s position.

  11. I went to a game and sat mid-court, and the speakers were aimed right toward me. It was horrendous. Tone it down or cut it out. It’s absolutely horrible.

  12. I agree that adding all of these things is out of place. This is a college game, not NBA. I don’t see how they will have any positive benefit to our basketball program. Keep it the way it was, not just because of tradition, but because this is a college campus not a professional venue.

  13. I’m a retired alum with season tickets in “The Penthouse” (balcony). They are really as good as any other seat in that terribly awful basketball arena and, in fact, better than quite a few!! Anyway, I wonder if Mr. Cuervo has ever been to a game. Nobody up where I am appreciated that extremely loud and excretiating noice that he calls music! My area has students to retired people so a wide cross section was included.

    What is wrong with the band playing some music different from the fight song all the time? Perhaps they could learn a new game song each week. By the end of the season they would have several songs to play during the games. One thing we could have less of is them playing the fight song everytime the crowd really starts to cheer during a dead ball. That takes away some of the crowd’s enthusiasm.

    One thing Mr. Cuervo could take advantage of is that huge scoreboard with the replay capability. He might start showing replays of the controversial calls. Currently he is afraid to show anything controversial at either Assembly or the football stadium. You have the ablility but apparently lack the courage to show what actually happened on a call or play!

    One writer suggested a lower level student section similar to Duke. I don’t think I.U. wants that much enthusiasm. A few games ago, two students painted in I.U. colors and wearing I.U. clothing were escorted out by the police because someone (ushers) thought they were yelling too much. They were told to sit while the ball was in play, which they did, but they still cheered wildly and tried to get others in our area to cheer as well. When the police took them out, there were many comments from the older fans that I.U. must not want the students to show any sort of support or emotion at these games. Based on the changes now being implemented, I’m beginning to see that’s true!

  14. The new game-day experience is pretty pathetic. I have been going to IU basketball games for 15 years and this is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Trying to make people do the wave? Are you kidding? What’s great about the wave is that it is spontaneous…and generated by fans having fun, not by some emcee trying to MAKE the fans do something they don’t feel like doing.

    If you want people to have fun, let the band play during timeouts and halftime. I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy listening to the band play real songs. This isn’t the NBA. Mr Cuervo, why don’t you actually talk to the students and alumni before you start instiuting new policies that you just think everyone will like.

  15. The biggest change needed is to get students in early and to seat students on the floor. Make all floor seats available to those with a student ID on an first come basis. Move the big donors into seats of their choices above the court.

    Students will create the before-game noise and entertainment. We don’t need gimmicks.

  16. Students were cheering loudly so they were escorted
    out??? What is this, Ms. Prim’s school of etiquette, or
    Indiana University, a tax supported school with a great
    basketball tradition?
    Who makes these decisions and how can the student
    body get an audience?

  17. yet another alumnus hating the loud canned pop music. you know what the best “music” is at a sporting event? the buzz of the crowd during timeouts of a close game. that’s music to the ears of a sports fan? can anyone really believe they will boost attendance with rock music??? that’s why i quit going to nba games.

  18. Indiana University Basketball doesn’t need the loud blaring soundtracks. It’s got the great pep band–they do a far better job of entertaining the fans than any piped in music. So, ditto to all the comments above.

  19. So what actions can we take? Why don’t we speak out and e-mail or better yet, write his boss Tim Fitzpatrick. I also think that the clown show would come to a sudden halt if everyone simply began to BOO!!!

  20. This wasn’t all Frank’s idea, of course. He just happens to be the guy who spoke to us about it. There were many other people involved in making the decision.

    And, as with most things, it seems like only the most disgruntled voices are speaking up here.

    There’s gotta be somebody out there who appreciated IU’s attempt at modernization, right?

  21. Please, please, please turn off the loud rock music before we all suffer from a hearing loss. It is bad enough outdoors in the football stadium, in Assembly Hall it is excruciating! Let the pep band play and let the crowd respond to the action on the court.

  22. I don’t like the changes at all. Whatever is done needs to be done to encourage crowd to support the team with gusto. And for m this means that I didn’t like some of the previous “entertainment” where the music was slow or the band paid little attention to what was happening on the floor. I think that somebody could appropriately coordinate the music with what the team is doing and skip the rest during a game. There are other venues for your so-called “entertainment.”

  23. I heard this once at a meeting. Even though it is grammatically incorrect, it is appropriate to Mr. Cuervo’s ‘ideas’.
    “I have one question for you………..you are wrong!”
    I hope Mr. Cuervo is not run out of town, but his ideas should be.

  24. So far all 24 comments are negative and I will add the 25th. I don’t think those ahead of me are against progress either but change is not always good, necessary, or the right change. Are other colleges doing this or did Mr. Ceurvo copy only from the NBA? But the real question is who do we e-mail to express an opinion that is involved in the decision process and can do something. Can you tell us?

  25. Last night’s game was much better in terms of toning down some the things they did against MSU. There was no forced wave and they weren’t blaring music over the loud speakers during timeouts…instead the band was playing. If the rest of the games are like last night, I have no problem.

  26. Someone on the Star News page had what i think was a great idea for pregame. Turn the lights down and use the video board to play the old janitor lady intro from the channel 4 broadcasts of several years ago. This nonsense with the wave, canned music etc.. is what used to set apart the IU bball experience. If copycatting the rest of the country was this guys intention then he has succeeded. I hope somone can deliver this message board to Mr. Cuervo and we can get our arena back.

  27. Hey Travis,
    Glad you liked my idea in the Star, but it wasn’t me first I was just repeating a previous poster. I agree with every single one of these posts here. Last night was much better, the volume seemed down quite a bit, and the music was more limited and a little more tasteful–I can live with We are the Champions if I have to. But I still think the atmosphere belongs to the students:players, band, and cheerleaders. All these kids work very hard to perform well and should be main attraction. The pepband is awesome, don’t take time from them. The multi media crap needs to be pushed way back.

    On the positive side the trivia board is nice, and the t-shirt launchers are cool too. And I too really enjoyed “stand up old people” and when they finally did the whole house was rocking–that was awesome–not contrived.

    Mr. Cuervo please understand that the Assembly Hall atmosphere is pretty important to IU Nation and you have to be very careful justifying changes things just by calling it “progress”.

    And students, please can we not cross the line into the vulgarity of chanting the F-word? Surely we don’t need that. Like it or not Purdue deserves to be treated like we want to be when we go on the road. Assembly Hall can be loud, raucous, and still classy! There are quite a few little hoosiers in the building too.

    Sorry, I’m a dad. Someday many of you will be too.

  28. I went to the Kentucky game down in Lexington, and once they dimmed the lights and started blaring the music, i said, “wow, this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen”. The IU administration is dangerously close to stooping to the same level, and I’ll be damned if we start copycatting KENTUCKY.

    In keeping with another theme, put the students in the uncomfortable wooden bleachers, because they don’t sit down. If the alumni want the best seats, give them the nice padded seats in the first few rows of the main level.

  29. I agree with Kyle about putting students in the wooden bleachers. The actual seats are a different issue. I think a big reason why the alumni don’t stand is because they are being respectful for the people around them. Everyone paid to SEE the game. Maybe give the option for the people who don’t feel like standing the entire game to sit lower and those who want to stand up have seats behind them. This way everyone is comfortable and not forced to worry as much about the comfort of others around them.

    When I’m at games, I always see the non-student section looking around at each other to see if they should stand up or not. It just always seems like a group effort and people can’t cheer the way they want to. Maybe this suggestion would prevent disrespectful chants such as “stand up old people” and bring an atmosphere where all age groups can work together to cheer on the team.

  30. I’m a member of the Big Red Basketball Band, and I can honestly say I don’t know a single member of the band who appreciates any of these new changes implimented by Mr. Cuervo. During pre-game, we sit there hearing Zombie Nation played over those excruciatingly loud speakers and we all say to each other “hey, we know this song, why can’t we play it instead?” We’ve had so much playing time taken away that at times I wonder why, as a member of the band, I’m even at the game, or what my purpose is anymore.

    We’re stuck playing mainly the fight songs during time outs and down balls because that’s what the Athletic Administration wants us to do, but even I can tell people get a little tired of hearing “Indiana, Fight!” every five minutes. There’s nothing better than whipping out some of our less frequently played songs and pumping up the crowd and getting a good cheer from them afterward. It makes me feel like I have a purpose at the game and like I’m supporting the Hoosiers and the fans the best that I can. No one cheers for canned music coming out of those loudspeakers and it certainly doesn’t seem to pump up the crowd and make them want to cheer our team on.

    I don’t like to brag, but we have an amazing pep band, one of the best in the nation, and it’s nothing short of a shame that traditions are being knocked down left and right for this supposed “improvement” or “progress” that in reality has just taken us a huge step back from having this incredible game day atmosphere to just being another boring, cookie cutter college doing what everyone else does.

  31. I think the Purdue game was fine in terms of how things are done. I also noticed that the teams are now in the locker room for the national anthem, and this was also the case at the MSU game. What is the reasoning behind that? The music over the speakers doesn’t bother me for situations such as the ‘Bring Em Out’ bit that plays as the team comes onto the floor just before gametime. Other than that I believe the band should play 95% of the time during the remainder and perhaps some occasional music out of the speakers the other 5%. That way Assembly Hall will still have the same feel.

    Also, whoever mentioned turning the lights out for intro’s, I think thats a great idea. If you think that turning the lights out for introductions is copying Kentucky, you are wrong. A good percentage of arenas do that, and it’s a good way to get the team hyped up. Actually it wouldn’t really have to be the intros…probably just them coming onto the floor would be good enough.

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