Hunters aid athletics in waterfowl hunt

By Gus Bode

Cramped inside duck blinds at the Grassy Lake Hunting Club, hunters raised their guns to support Saluki athletics.

Guns and universities don’t always have a positive affiliation, however, SIU and the hunting club mutually hosted the event to raise money for the Athletic Department. The Saluki Waterfowl Hunt was held Friday in Jonesboro and brought together university and community officials along with a variety of donors to aid in the price tag that still lingers from the Saluki Way project.

Athletic Director Mario Moccia said the hunt, an event he believes to be unique to the university, is a good way for the Athletic Department to work with its rural community to get involved with what’s happening on campus.

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He said many factors determine the success of events similar to the waterfowl hunt such as the economic status of the community and the success of the athletic programs.

SIU Athletic Director Mario Moccia waits for ducks to fly by Friday during the Saluki Waterfowl Hunt at Grassy Lake Hunting Club in Jonesboro. Moccia, along with other athletic department employees and donors such as International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, participated in the duck hunt as a fundraising event for SIU athletics. Individuals paid , 000 for their own duck blind. Steve Matzker | Daily Egyptian

“When you do well, everyone comes to you,” Moccia said. “When you don’t, you have to reach out and go to them.”

The football team has had back-to-back losing seasons and both men and women’s basketball teams are trying to recover from a subpar finish in the 2010-11 seasons. The majority of the $80 million designated to the Saluki Way project went to the construction of Saluki Stadium and the renovation of the SIU Arena.

The project put $29.9 million into the arena, while the new football stadium had a $25.3 million-price tag.

Donations from the hunt came from individuals, businesses and unions, with a minimum donation of $250 per person or $1,000  per blind.

Tom Goetz, one of the event organizers, said he expected the hunt raised more than $5,000, which brings the total to about $50,000 since the program started in 1994. Former SIU basketball coach Rich Herrin started the event. However, the project went dormant when Bruce Weber came in, Goetz said.

The hunt is now in its third year after the hiatus.

Senior associate athletic director Jason King said the hunting club has a great relationship with the area and the hunting community, and when Goetz came to Moccia to reactivate the event, the Athletics Department recognized the opportunity at hand.

He said the department had to jump through several hoops to associate an event such as this with a university.

“We worked with the university’s risk management, we have forms that all of the hunters fill out and we have special insurance we do with the club,” King said. “We had to get some things done and make sure all of our T’s were crossed and I’s were dotted.”

He said the number of participants was slightly down from 2010, but it has consistently remained a success in the department.

“It took a little while to get back on its feet,” King said. “But even since the first year, we’ve been really happy with it.”

 

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