It appears Illinois fans won't be getting beer inside Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center anytime soon. During a recent interview with WCIA, Josh Whitman implied that alcohol sales really aren't even being considered at this point in time. The new athletic director stated that, while its national implementation at collegiate venues across the country is something they'll continue to monitor, the introduction of such a policy at home games isn't something that has, "risen to the top of the list" for the department.
When Whitman was hired in February, the exploration of such sales were one of my five potential projects for him to consider upon arriving in Champaign. Prior to the 2015 season, there were 34 college football programs that had adopted beer at games, including fellow Big Ten members Maryland and Minnesota. The incentive is obvious, as West Virginia reported annual revenue of about $500,000 from in-stadium sales.
There definitely are safety concerns, though, because we're talking about college sporting events. While underage drinking isn't the worst crime in America, I certainly understand that it's not the most appealing result from Illinois' perspective; no one in their right mind would want to saddle themselves with that liability. My argument? When you're the nation's No. 1 party school, students are going to be drinking on Saturday afternoons no matter what. So if it's taking place on university-owned property, then perhaps it can be policed more efficiently there than, say, the campus bars.
July 25, 2016 Poll Question
Should Illinois sell alcohol during athletic events at Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center? Make sure to cast your vote below, and let us know what you think in the comments.
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Groce still has three scholarships at his disposal for the class-of-2017, and several of his top targets remain uncommitted as the calendar turns to August. So what's next for the Fighting Illini?
Clearly not the best news for Lovie Smith and Illinois, but this commitment may perhaps have ramifications with another target. Three-star back Maleek Williams gave his own verbal to the Razorbacks in early June; the Florida native planned to visit Champaign, but the recruitment ended before those plans could be carried out.
Alabama offensive tackle Preston Mixon included Fighting Illini football in his Top 5. The 6-foot-4, 293-pound prospect is also considering Memphis, Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic, and Nevada in addition to Illinois.
"I've always been an underdog," Smoot said. "I feel like I've always been underestimated because of my size and everything like that, so it just gave me a little more desire, like, ‘OK, I'm a three-star.' I know what I can do, so I just have to go out there and show it.
Q: Have you noticed a Lovie Smith effect in your department?
A: I have. I get more calls from people, particularly I work in premium seating and some of the suites and club suites and donations. I went from it being really tough to getting meetings with folks from out of town to it being really easy. We've increased our ticket sales, and there's been a huge uptick in premium seating for football.