If I had a nickel for every Duquesne alum I spoke with who said something to the extent of “I’ll support Duquesne men’s basketball when the school does,” I’d have $8.40. Doesn’t sounds like much but that’s a lot of nickels. More so than any other fanbase I’ve known, loyalty towards Duquesne comes with caveats, but now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.
By landing Keith Dambrot at a seven figure salary as their head coach and by planning major renovations to the AJ Palumbo Center, Duquesne is showing a full on commitment we’ve never seen in the past. We saw some half measures and certainly welcome changes under Greg Amodio and Charles Daugherty, but the new sheriffs in town are taking it to an entirely different level.
Committing a little more money to support the program is easier for the administration when you know you have an AD like Dave Harper who can go out and raise the money. Not everyone is good at development or even comfortable with it. Harper has made a career of finding funds in and out of the athletic department at Dayton. By finally finding a coach like Dambrot to say ‘yes’, Harper is in a solid position to ask for financial support. The school has never taken a bigger role. Raising money should be easy, right?
In theory, sure, but Harper is fighting years and years of damaged relationships. While some might dismiss it as common butthurt, the past will remain a serious barrier to the future if the athletic department can’t overcome it. He also still needs to deal the with “I’ll support the program when they win” caveat crowd. In truth, the administration may support athletics if they don’t see a real cash return on their investment. Personally, I’m not waiting for the winning to show my commitment.
Harper and Ken Gormley aren’t the past. They’re the future and we need to distinguish one from the other. It’s time to help it flourish rather than continue to lament what’s already come. Below, you’ll find an email that I actually sent to Dave Harper.
I know this email will find you well as you’ve achieved what some would have considered the near impossible by landing a top notch college basketball coach at Duquesne. I believed you could from the start and I’m overjoyed at the prospect of watching Keith Dambrot lead the way moving forward. It is a special day and an exciting time to be a Duquesne fan given the university’s sincere commitment to raising a top notch program.
In turn, I wanted to demonstrate my, albeit, more meager commitment by expressing my pledge to renew my season tickets next season. We can’t wait to win to show our support for the program as fans. We will be setting Coach Dambrot up to fail if we do. He can’t recruit the players he needs to succeed with volleyball sized crowds at the AJ Palumbo Center. The time for setting caveats for support by alums needs to end. The time for unadulterated support is now.
While I was likely an easy mark on Adam Minnaugh’s prospect list regardless of who the coach was, I also want to help the program by working to find at least five non-season ticket holders to purchase season tickets this season that may be somewhat off the radar. I will challenge other fans to “find five” as well, hopefully compounding the impact of my efforts.
Unfortunately, I’m not at a place in my career to give a large cash donation, but I can light a fire under the folks I know who should be more interested in the Dukes. I will do my best to find you new support and get butts in the arena from the very start of the Keith Dambrot era. Alums should be excited and that should translate to a full house. While I can’t promise major impact, I can promise effort and my pledge to help grow this program in any way I can. Please let me know if there are any other ways I can get involved.
Co-founder, The Point of Pittsburgh
If you are a Duquesne Fan or alum, first and foremost, I want you to let the athletic department know that you are a season ticket holder and wish to renew. Then, I’d like for you to think about five other people who you know who might have an interest in the program. They might be sports fans with no ties to the university, former season ticket holders or graduates who now root for Pitt who you feel still have a little good left in them. Next, I want you to encourage them to buy season tickets. Maybe they’ll say no, but by setting the ask high, they could settle on six games or even a single ticket. That’s still at least one more face in the crowd than before! If you can also spare a personal gift, I’m sure they’d happily apply it to our new coach’s paycheck, especially if you live out of town and season tickets are impractical.
We current Duquesne fans, myself included, do not deserve Dambrot or the investment from the school. We need a culture change and it starts with you. If you don’t want to ask anyone to buy tickets at least fix your attitude. Recognize the difference from the future and the past and note that one of these things is not like the other. At the moment, we’re getting more than we’ve earned and its time to roll up our sleeves. If we don’t, this type of support from the administration and board may never come again and with good reason. If you want to keep holding your forty year grudge, more power to you, but I’ll be in the house with my friends watching this program grow while you sit in your living room and find new reasons to complain. Honestly, at least one of the old narratives, the administration won’t support basketball, is at best on life support.