Director of marketing and fan engagement clarifies who he wants in the student section

Reggie McIntyre said Kylee Sorrells "older folks" statement at the Student Senate meeting last week was "misconstrued."

The+Wichita+State+student+section+throws+up+pieces+of+%22The+Sunflower%22+after+the+first+basket+of+the+game+on+Nov.+6%2C+2018+in+Koch+Arena.
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Director of marketing and fan engagement clarifies who he wants in the student section

The Wichita State student section throws up pieces of

The Wichita State student section throws up pieces of "The Sunflower" after the first basket of the game on Nov. 6, 2018 in Koch Arena.

Joseph Barringhaus

The Wichita State student section throws up pieces of "The Sunflower" after the first basket of the game on Nov. 6, 2018 in Koch Arena.

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

The Wichita State student section throws up pieces of "The Sunflower" after the first basket of the game on Nov. 6, 2018 in Koch Arena.

Reggie McIntyre grew up around passionate student sections. He was born in North Carolina, went to North Carolina State University for his undergraduate degree, and received his graduate degree from the University of Louisville.

His current role with the Wichita State athletics department is director of marketing and fan engagement. He oversees all of Shocker athletics’ marketing strategy and game day presentations, which includes the student section.

And he knows a passionate student section when he sees one. In an interview with The Sunflower, he explained how Penn State won college football’s student section of the week award on the road against Maryland — something he called a “ballsy move.”

“You’ve got to respect that,” McIntyre said. “That’s having pride for a school. That’s consistency.”

And he wants consistency in the Koch Arena student section.

Some were upset with a recent statement made by graduate assistant Kylee Sorrells at a Student Senate meeting last week. Sorrells, who spoke on behalf of WSU Athletics at the meeting, made a statement that the student section rebranding campaign would help get “older folks” out of the student section.

On Tuesday, McIntyre said the statement was “misconstrued.”

“I expect nontraditional students to be in the student section — that’s not what we are referring to,” McIntyre said. “It’s when [students] leave space open for the general public to go and obtain a ticket and you have a mother, a father, and their kids in the section — that is what leads to other conversations.”

For McIntyre, it all falls back on his views of consistency. His first year in Wichita was Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet’s final year with the program. He saw his fair share of sold out arenas, and student-filled student sections for that matter. But he said he saw an immediate change when the two stars weren’t on the roster for the next season.

“The next year, there was a little bit of doubt,” McIntyre said. “And you know, we have some games that were kind of iffy, but then the team was like, ‘Wait a second, we are really good.’ Then people started coming back in waves. We’ve had games where it’s been completely students [in the student section], and I absolutely loved it.”

But a student-filled student section simply isn’t as common as McIntyre wants it to. And there’s a reason why these “older folks” have been gaining more access in the student section as of late.

Head coach Gregg Marshall addressed a letter to Wichita State students, which was placed on each seat of the student section at the Saint Louis game Dec. 6, 2014 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

There are 1,041 seats in the designated student section inside the roundhouse. Students at WSU can pick up their men’s basketball tickets in advance, giving the athletics department an estimate as to how many students will be in attendance.

On game day, the department dishes out general admission tickets, giving the public an opportunity to sit in any available student-section seats

“My expectation is that there should be 1,041 students in the student section,” McIntyre said. “I never want to sell a G.A. ticket — I never want to. But I also don’t want a student section to be half empty either.”

McIntyre used a hypothetical example to clarify his hopes for the rebranding campaign. This season, the Shockers will be hosting Penny Hardaway-led Memphis, a team that’s likely to be ranked for at least a good portion of the season. McIntyre said students could be a decisive factor if they turn out.

“Are they going to be that sixth man that’s going to lead us to a win?” McIntyre asked.

“We have 10,506 seats in Charles Koch Arena. I want that student section to be filled with students only.”

McIntyre said the rebranding campaign is aimed at empowering students.

“I feel like we have one of the top basketball programs in the country, and I feel like we can have one of the top student sections in the country, but for that to happen, our culture is going to have to change,” McIntyre said.

“If we want to continue to have Charles Koch Arena be one of the toughest places to play, we are going to need our students to come out in full force, and most importantly have fun.”

The first steps on this student involvement campaign was seen on Sept. 21 when the baseball team played an exhibition game against Nebraska. McIntyre’s department hosted a student-friendly tailgate with exclusive T-shirts, something he said students “actually wanted.”

As McIntyre’s interview wound down, he emphasized again that he doesn’t want to use exclusionary language when talking about the student section. Nontraditional students are welcome.

“When we talk about dibs, when it comes to the students here at Wichita State, that’s who I expect — freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors,” McIntyre said. “Whether you’re talking transfer or international . . . we are talking students versus general public — that’s what we are referring to.

“We need a student body that backs our Shockers.”