After more than two years of hibernation, the athletic department is finally looking to bring back “The Herd” this year with a different strategy.
After changes in personnel, the athletic department is aiming to re-charter the club on Jan. 28, the date of the next Bronco Club and Organization Conference. By that date, the department will have a board of directors in place and will have begun to recruit new members.
“We want to have as many members but one of the biggest things we’ve had issues with [when it comes to] ‘The Herd’ the last couple of years is self-sustainability,” Marketing and Promotions Student Assistant Blake Morris said. “We want to be able to start something that’s going to run itself and get better and better on its own.”
The department tried to charter the club at the last BCORC meeting on Aug. 8, but were unable to because most of the revamping and research began midway through this past summer.
Morris, a fifth-year marketing and management student, is leading the planning and organization of “The Herd” as it goes through the process of being chartered.
Earlier this year, Senior Associate Athletic Director Stephanie Duke assigned Morris to research successful student-run fan groups across the country and come up with a timeline for getting “The Herd” up and running. Morris also worked with the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers to learn what it takes to run a club on campus.
The department hired Mike Farrell as assistant athletic director of marketing and promotions in August. He is working alongside Morris and will take over shepherding “The Herd” after Morris graduates this year.
“I came in and Blake had this Herd plan pretty established and we’re kind of just rolling with that,” Farrell said. “The biggest thing is just to get the students involved on campus.”
The student-run fan group was founded in 2011 and was an organized and well-attended group until its key leadership graduated in 2015. Since then, the group has been non-existent and since 2015 lost its charter with Associated Student Inc. as a recognized club on campus.
In the spring of 2017, Steven Esparza was hired as assistant athletic director of public relations and donor services. He was tasked with relaunching “The Herd.” His efforts led to Jan. 18 of this year when two home basketball games were part of “Pack the Stands 2: The Refill.”
“That didn’t really have a lot of affiliation with ‘The Herd,’” Morris said.
Esparza “transitioned from the campus” on Feb. 15, according to Athletic Director Brian Swanson, who declined to comment.
“There was an attempt at maybe a new way instead of chartering it as a club,” Duke said. “And then we kind of re-strategized this spring time.”
The new strategy of being charted will allow ‘The Herd’ to form a budget and request funds from BCORC. In addition, the group will be listed on my BAR where the department can be in contact with more students than if it was run solely by the athletic department.
The by laws, new logo and application for board of directors’ positions are available on the athletic department website broncoathletics.com. The positions are for students and include president, vice president of finance, vice president of communications and recruitment and vice president of membership.
Morris is aiming to have the board of directors selected by the end of September to allow plenty of time to recruit new members by the time “The Herd” gains its charter in January.
“Looking into what other clubs across much larger schools have done, they had a similar structure,” Morris said.
As part of his research into other student-run fan groups, Morris studied Dartmouth College’s “Mean Green Machine” and Xavier University’s “X-Treme Fans.”
“Those two played a huge inspiration on what we’re going to do here,” Morris said.
Similar to those groups, “The Herd” is going to use a reward system for members to incentivize attendance and consistency. Students who attend a game as part of “The Herd” will earn a buck. The bucks will be turned in for prizes. The specifics of the prizes will be posted on the athletics department website once the board of directors are in place. A scanning system will be in place at the entrance to every game where students will swipe their Bronco I.D. cards through to track attendance and earn the bucks.
According to Morris, Farrell and Duke, the recruitment of members will focus on students living on campus, specifically freshmen and sophomores. “The Herd” page on the athletic department’s website can be found at broncoathletics.com.