For students attending NIU football games, the experience is all about hanging out with friends, the thrill of victory and being part of a community.
Starting this season, it isalso is all about the Benjamins.
The school announced this week the Huskie $100s program, in which at least 10 students will earn $100 at every home football game.
“We talked to student leaders and different groups, and the old standards of things to give away like food and T-shirts came up,” Executive Associate Athletic Director John Cheney said. “But, given the financial climate a lot of students are in, we though the money might be better spent giving money to students.”
NIU students, who are admitted free to every NIU athletics home event, automatically are entered to win the $100 when they swipe their OneCard at the gates on the east side of Huskie Stadium. If there are 1,000 or fewer students, 10 winners will be selected to win the $100, which will be deposited into the winners’ bursar accounts within a week of the game. If student attendance is more than 1,000, there will be 20 winners, more than 2,000 students will see 30 winners, and so on.
Since the team announced the program Tuesday, it has gained national attention – something Cheney said he’s been happy to see heading into the home opener at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 against Utah.
“As much as anything, that’s the other part of this – getting exposure to help get students excited,” Cheney said. “We’ll have to see how it goes, the proof will be in the pudding if they show up on game day. But we’re excited how the first couple days have gone.”
With NIU attendance in a decline over most of the decade, Cheney said the Huskie $100s is part of an overall plan to increase student attendance this year. Cheney said the school is set to announce details of a rally zone pregame area aimed at students and young alumni.
“We wanted to come up with something somewhat original that engaged the student,” Cheney said. “We didn’t just want to give away a T-shirt or whatever that they can claim early and then just leave. It had to be something they came in early to get and stay to the end to win. The hope is that everyone stays for a while and will be engaged with the game and add to our home-field advantage.”
Winners will be drawn at random from the student ID numbers associated with the scanned OneCards at each game. The winners will be drawn with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter – so students must have their OneCards scanned and be in the stands before that time.
The winning ID numbers will be announced and displayed on the videoboard during the last timeout of the third quarter, and winners must be present to win.
Winners will meet the NIU athletics representative at the south end of the east bleacher concourse and must present their OneCards at that time.
In addition, every student who does not win through the “Huskie $100s” promotion at any point during the year, but does attend all five home games (per OneCard scans), will be entered to win a random drawing for $750, also payable into the winner’s bursar account. That drawing will take place after the last home game of the year (Nov. 14) and before the Thanksgiving holiday.