(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- University of Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden made a stop in Sikeston Wednesday to talk to Mizzou fans about their recent conference move and where the home-state school is headed.
Alden, who also made stops in Dexter and Cape Girardeau, mostly hit on his university's big move to the Southeastern Conference and the advantages that come with it.
"At least from a fan base perspective, most reactions have been very positive," Alden said about their move to the SEC. "Particularly south of I-70. The enthusiasm has been tremendous. I think our fans are excited for the fact that we're going to be playing an even higher level of competition week in and week out. They get a chance to see new destinations, new teams and I think that enthusiasm has shown through."
Unlike the Big 12 Conference, Missouri has a chance to reach twice as many footprints within the Southeastern Conference.
The Big 12 gave schools a chance to advertise to around 45 million households. With the SEC, Mizzou could potentially reach 89 million.
"We have the chance to promote higher education in the state of Missouri, the university and the Tigers at twice the level we had before," Alden said.
Mizzou's home game against Georgia last Saturday, their first-ever SEC regular season football game, drew over 4 million viewers from across the nation alone.
"The advertising power when you're trying to be able to promote an institution, a community and a state, you could never afford that type of advertising. You want to capitalize on that.
"For us, in athletics, we're always trying to be an asset, not a liability."
Under Alden's watch, the Tigers have flourished.
During his career at Mizzou, the football program has competed in seven straight bowl games, which is a school record. The Tigers' 48 football wins in the last five seasons ranks ninth in the NCAA among the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) automatic qualifying leagues.
Mizzou's basketball team finished with 30 wins last season and received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament before they were upset by No. 15 Norfolk State in the first round.
Out of the last four years, the Mizzou softball program has also competed in the Women's College World Series three times. In the last six years, six Tiger programs have won 11 conference championships.
Recently, Alden was rewarded for his leadership with a two-year contract extension that will run through June 30, 2019.
"The one thing about the athletic program at Mizzou, or at a school at our level, it's one of the greatest advertising tools - bar none. Whether people want to recognize that or not, or whether people want to admit that or not, that's reality.
"The move to the SEC is one of the examples of why we would do that. That exposure, for us, is unprecedented."
Prior to taking over the athletic director's position at Missouri, Alden was director of athletics at Texas State University. He has worked in athletic administration for Division I schools since 1985, serving as assistant athletic director for administration at Arizona State University and as associate athletic director for development at the University of New Mexico.