UPDATED: SMU Football Coach June Jones: Success in Football Benefits Everyone

April 20, 2010  

By Brooks L. Powell

UPDATE: Brad Sutton, SMU Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations, clarified Jones’ statement regarding the number of viewers for the Dec. 24 Hawai’i Bowl Game. Jones told the SMU Student Senate 540 million people watched the game. Sutton explained via e-mail that an outside media survey calculated that “504 million people were exposed to the SMU brand by SMU’s berth in the bowl.” That figure represents the number of viewers or readers for news stories and articles leading up to and following the game. SMU Daily Mustang obtained a copy of the report, prepared by Cision Public Relations based in Chicago. The precise number of hits was 503,955,166. The PR firm also calculated that the value of the media exposure from the bowl berth exceeded $30 million.

When asked about Jones misstating the viewership figures, Sutton said by phone that Jones simply misspoke, adding that there was nothing “nefarious” about the error. Sutton said he had prepared and disseminated a sheet of statistics following the game and that Jones likely skimmed it and misstated what he had read. Sutton emphasized that the error was unintentional.

Brittany Mee, SMU’s account representative with Cision Public Relations, said via telephone that the firm calculates media exposure based on a number of factors. The number of readers for print media is determined based on the audited circulation figures for each publication. Viewers for broadcast stories are calculated based on the Nielsen net rating. And unique visitors for each Web article are counted to affix a value for Internet exposure. Cision PR does not track unique visitors from publication to publication, site to site, or channel to channel, Mee said. In other words, viewers were counted more than once if they read multiple articles from multiple sources, or watched more than one broadcast story.

The $30 million figure for publicity value is calculated using the three metrics above and Cision’s proprietary value for advertising cost. The number that results is the amount an advertiser would have paid for the coverage in each medium. Mee said Web and broadcast values are difficult to determine in many cases, so Cision uses values it has determined in-house. Print value is based on a per-publication basis.

The National Football Foundation calculated 32,650 people attended the game in Honolulu, while 1,951,227 tuned in to watch the broadcast.

Hear coach Jones address the SMU Student Senate at their Tuesday, April 20 meeting.

SMU football coach June Jones told the SMU Student Senate a winning football program is a major benefit to the university as a whole. And he said he has proof.

“I think a lot of times, people forget what a successful football team or athletic department … does for everybody,” Jones said.

To substantiate his claim, Jones offered Senators a number of statistics Tuesday afternoon. SMU Daily Mustang has not been able to independently confirm that the figures are accurate.

According to Jones, an independent media research firm calculated that 540 million people tuned in to watch the Mustangs’ victory at the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24, 2009.

Jones said the football team’s impressive performance had an immediate impact on prospective students. From the date of the game through Jan. 9, 2010, Jones said admission applications to SMU surged 35 percent.

Responding to recent reports about the SMU athletics department’s growing budget deficits, Jones said winning, and therefore recruiting more students to attend SMU, will help stem fiscal hemorrhaging.

“[Winning] allows us to reach and make more revenue at the school,” Jones said. “This school has been operating in a big deficit obviously for a number of years, and so we’re on the verge of breaking through that, which is really really exciting.”

Jones said SMU also saw gains on the digital front. Hits on SMU’s homepage since Dec. 24, have increased 35 to 40 percent, Jones said. He boasted that on Dec. 24, the number of hits at SMU.edu numbered 87,000, easily eclipsing the 77,000 Web site hits on the date of the announcement that the Bush Library and Institute would make its home on the Hilltop.

While the players gear up for the fall, Jones said the athletic department is ramping up some new traditions. The two mustangs presented to SMU by philanthropist Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, will be christened with new names in an upcoming ceremony. Details are forthcoming. In addition, last season, players and students marched with the live mustang mascots in the “Mustang Walk” from Moody Coliseum to Ford Stadium. Jones encouraged all students to join in starting at the first home game Sept. 11, against the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Regarding next season, Jones said he’s particularly optimistic.

“We’re excited about where we’re headed,” Jones said. “We think we’re going to continue right on up the ladder—we envision a conference championship and that’s what we’re playing for.”

“It certainly will be a lot of fun to be an SMU Mustang the next four to five years,” Jones said.

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3 Responses to “UPDATED: SMU Football Coach June Jones: Success in Football Benefits Everyone”

  1. Bruce on April 22nd, 2010 9:16 am

    I am not writing to criticize Coach Jones. I have no doubt that SMU’s appearance in the Aloha Bowl increased the school’s national profile to some extent. But, there is no way that the game was watched by 540 million people. That’s 2.5 x the population of the United States! The BCS championship game attracts something like 30 million–if it’s a good game. If the Aloha Bowl was watched by 5.4 million that would have been a great audience. I think in his enthusiasm, Coach Jones probably misspoke.

  2. ace on April 25th, 2010 5:37 pm

    That 540 million figure is a typo. I saw the research firm’s reprt on the SMU athletic site and it was much less than that but it was good to see that we are getting more publicity.

  3. blpowell on April 25th, 2010 8:22 pm

    Hey Bruce and Ace,
    Thanks for the comments. I agree, the 540 million figure seems extremely high. I invite you both to listen to Coach Jones in his own words via the audio recording at the top of this story. If we didn’t have the audio to back it up, we would not have run that figure in the story.

    We are trying to get clarification from SMU Athletics regarding the actual figure. We’ll update the story as soon as that information is received.
    Thanks again,
    Brooks Powell