Out-of-state MAA chapters reenergize with SEC excitement

As football season approaches, MAA alumni chapters see increased involvement.
Since the school's move to the Southeastern Conference, the Mizzou Alumni Association has seen growth in the Southeast region. The MMA is planning several membership appeals for alumni in the area.

After MU's switch to the Southeastern Conference, the Mizzou Alumni Association saw a growth of 15 new or redeveloped chapters in the Southeast.

"I think what it will do is it will shift Mizzou's presence from the old Big 12 footprint to the SEC," MAA Executive Director Todd McCubbin said. "It gives more opportunities for fans in that area to see the Tigers."

With athletic teams and other MAA headquarters staff traveling to Birmingham for games and conferences, the move to the SEC will bring MU closer to alumni in the area, said Phoebe Wu, Alabama-Birmingham/North Alabama chapter president.

"We used to get kicked off the TV in restaurants if there was an SEC school playing at the same time," Wu said. "It seems that now we are going to have more opportunities for other events and because of folks traveling here from Columbia."

The MAA is planning several membership appeals for alumni in that area, such as static clings that commemorate the first year of being a part of the SEC, MAA Membership and Marketing Director David Roloff said.

"We are hoping to capitalize on the excitement of the SEC," Roloff said. "We do member appeals to pretty much all alumni throughout the school year, but for the fall we are really going to concentrate on the alumni in the SEC footprint."

The MAA hopes to provide members with information about the SEC to educate them about the change.

"We are trying to familiarize them with the SEC and the conference culture," McCubbin said. "Educating folks about that is a big part of what we are trying to do."

The pride of being part of the SEC is the reason for the heightened excitement not only in the SEC area, but also nationwide, McCubbin said.

"It's a pride factor,” McCubbin said. “They are proud that their university got invited to a premier conference. Interest kicked up a couple of notches because of the newness of it. The newness factor gives us a chance to engage alumni in different ways."

Although he hasn't noticed a significant rise in MAA memberships in his area, Mizzou Atlanta Alumni Chapter President Chad Bozarth has seen an increase in interest.

"I have seen an increased amount of people reaching out to me through social networks and the MAA," Bozarth said. "We've had a few meetings since June where we had about 20 or so people involved. Before the SEC switch, we usually had about five to 10 people, if meetings were held at all."

For the first time, the Atlanta chapter organized a student send-off for 19 incoming freshmen during the summer and established social networking accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Events like that, it just has never happened in the past for us," Bozarth said. "Those are the volunteer efforts that we need to reach a higher status as a chapter."

Atlanta has more than 1,600 alumni, but of those about 300 are members of the MAA. With the reenergizing of Atlanta alumni, Bozarth said he hopes the chapter can work toward earning a higher status, which would allow for more opportunities for Atlanta alumni and students.

"That's the ultimate goal of an alumni chapter: to get as many people involved from a networking standpoint and spread the word about Mizzou," Bozarth said. "But we also need to get as many people actively involved as an alumni member to help accumulate chapter funds so you can return the favor by offering a scholarship to a high school senior in your area, or to help finance chapter events."

Of about 600 alumni in the Birmingham chapter's area, about 100 are MMA members. Wu said she predicts membership to rise in the near future.

"I think a lot of people will start wanting to watch a game with someone or find other Tigers in the area," Wu said.

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