The Hoops Mania experience has included a musical guest since 2006. The relatively late and unexpected announcement by the Athletics Department of the decision to host this year’s Hoops Mania event without a performer shocked the student body, not because of feelings of entitlement, but because of recent traditions and expectations on campus.
The new era of Villanova students consider basketball to be an essential part of the Villanova experience that warrants a major celebration at the start of the new season. While the Athletics Department promises there will still be a surprises and guests during this year’s event, the absence of a major performer after over ten years of Mania events featuring musical act comes across as a scaling back of what is one of the largest and most anticipated student events each year. The announcement is especially disheartening since major campus-wide events can feel few and far between, and the University chose not to host a spring concert last year.
The Athletics Department’s announcement also immediately preceded the University’s 1842 Day event, one of many recent fundraising events that students have both participated in and helped to promote. Over the summer, the University concluded its capital campaign, which surpassed its goal and raised over $700 million for the University, including a $50 million gift designated specifically for the reconstruction of the new Finneran Pavillion and students and their families continue to foot high tuition bills for each year spent here at the University.
Additionally, as alumnus Dave Ederer pointed out in a tweet to The Villanovan, “Since @NovaAthletics is saving money on Hoops Mania, perhaps they should reconsider charging students to participate in their basketball fan group.” The University’s recently rebranded fan group requires students to pay $10 to join and receive benefits that were formerly provided for free, including bonus points for the student lottery and priority away games and bus trips. The fee might not be much, but if we’re paying more, why are we beginning the season by getting less?
Hoops Mania also serves as the prime recruiting event of the year for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. In the past, bringing in a performer to help kick off basketball season has served as a chance to demonstrate to potential recruits just how much excitement there is behind the basketball programs.
Yes, students can-and should-still celebrate the basketball teams without a musical performer at Hoops Mania. It is not so much the absence of a musical performer that has created this campus-wide controversy. Rather, it is the late announcement, the lack of transparency in the decision-making process and the divergence from the tradition of Hoops Mania that students from the past twelve years have experienced that are causing some concerns. The precedent of a performer at Hoops Mania has deemed it the largest, and most anticipated, event of the year. So, it is justified that we feel disappointed.
Of course, we’re excited to experience the new Finneran Pavilion and to finally have the elevated facilities to match our championship basketball program. We’re lucky and proud to be present on campus during such an incredible period for not only the basketball program, but also the University as a whole. However, with a basketball program as good as ours and a University and Athletics program that have substantially deepened their pockets in recent years, the belief was that Villanova would go above and beyond for the Wildcats and student body. With the excitement for this year’s basketball program due to last year’s accomplishments, including the second championship in three years, one of the best recruiting class and the new pavilion, expectations were set high for Hoops Mania.