The Mustangs’ historic Sheraton Hawaii Bowl victory gained national attention for SMU, raising the University’s profile and supporting Second Century Campaign efforts around the country. Viewers throughout the United States watched the Mustangs, led by Coach June Jones, defeat the University of Nevada Wolf Pack by a score of 45-10 on ESPN Christmas Eve.
The team’s success is a testament to the efforts of players and coaches and the support of students and alumni. In addition, a group known as Circle of Champions, working with the athletic director and University president, provided the funding necessary to attract a nationally known coach and committed to continue supporting the football program for five years. These and other donors also contributed more than $500,000 in a three-day period following SMU’s acceptance of the invitation to compete in the Hawaii Bowl.
The gifts allowed the Mustang Band, cheerleaders and Peruna and his handlers to travel to Hawaii to support the team. In addition to highlighting SMU’s spirit and commitment to athletic excellence, the Hawaii Bowl appearance sparked press coverage on television and in newspapers throughout the United States. Especially favorable stories in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed SMU’s academic quality and progress in addition to the Mustangs’ football success. Ultimately, this kind of coverage can play an important role in helping the University meet its campaign goals.
“It raises awareness,” says Matthew E. Gormly, III, co-chair of the Campaign Steering Committee for New York City. “It causes kids who may not have considered SMU before to take a serious look at the University, and they discover that, in addition to having a great football program, it also has great academics. “If they are accepted, then their parents get involved. And it becomes a ‘virtuous circle’ that benefits the University.”
Initiative benefits Mustang Band
The Mustang Band is one of SMU’s most cherished sources of spirit and pride. When the football team traveled to Hawaii for SMU’s first bowl game in 25 years, the band traveled as well to provide support.
To ensure a bright future for this University institution, SMU has unveiled an ambitious new funding initiative as a key focus of The Second Century Campaign. The Mustang Band Second Century Initiative will seek support for the retention and recruitment of band members and the creation of a new band hall.
The initiative will create a source of financial support for scholarships and student resources, including instruments, uniforms, equipment and traveling funds. This will help recruit students who embody the spirit, tenacity and work ethic required of a Mustang Band member and to support the band’s growth to at least 100 members.
The initiative also will create a new band home in Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports with proper acoustics, state-of-the-art technology and ample space. It will replace the band’s current practice facility in a modified storeroom beneath the bleachers in Perkins Natatorium. Funding goals include $2 million for scholarships and student support and $3 million for the new band hall.