Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Student-run section aims to improve attendance at women’s basketball games

Miya Tanner
The Women’s Basketball team plays against Southern University on Nov. 8, 2023 in the Moody Center. The ending score was 80 to 35, with a Texas win.

A group of advertising and public relations students started a student section called “The Herd” to help increase attendance and bring excitement to the Texas women’s basketball games. 

The Herd is part of an in-house advertising agency named “By the Horns” through The Lab, a capstone class in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at the Moody College of Communication. In The Lab, each class operates like a student-led independent agency that aims to ensure students are industry-ready upon graduation. 

“This is a capstone course for your final year at UT as an advertising student,” said Leah Barrera, The Herd’s co-vice president. “The Herd is an extension to our campaign, and we’re going all in.” 

Barrera and her partners are getting help from leaders of The Corral, the official men’s basketball student section.

“We’ve definitely reached out to them and they’re helping us promote The Herd,” co-vice president Julia Salas said. “But it’s going to be its own separate thing.”

The Herd uses the catchphrase, “Have you seen ‘em?” to highlight that the product is not the issue. The issue is raising awareness to convince students that women’s basketball games are a worthwhile experience they cannot miss out on. 

Based on a survey of students presented by The Herd’s directors, 19% of UT students attended a women’s basketball game in the 2022-23 season. Of that number, 43% came back for more.

“The women’s team just doesn’t get that same respect (as the men’s),” Barrera said. “So, there’s obviously a disconnect that we’re trying to overcome. The women’s team is amazing and deserves that same respect.”

The defending Big 12 Regular Season champions are undefeated in the 2023 season so far and brought home their first championship of the year from the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

“All it takes is to get somebody to come to our game(s) one time, and they’re hooked,” assistant coach Blair Schaefer told The Daily Texan in February.

The campaign directors are focused on connecting with students by celebrating them, incentivizing and rewarding student loyalty with free merchandise and pre-game food for those who arrive early. 

“We think by adding this initiative that would really help us overcome the (attendance issue) and bring students to have a connection with (the team),” Barrera said. 

The student-driven student section will be working with student ambassadors and organizations to promote and bring life to the games. Confirmed ambassadors include the Longhorn Hellraisers, Texas Darlins and Jack Maddox, a Longhorn superfan frequently found bringing hype to the basketball stands known to the student community as Bevo Hat Guy.

“I am a firm believer that women’s basketball is just as fun to watch as men’s,” said Alexandria Sayegh, Texas Darlins’ basketball chair. “But how do you create that FOMO atmosphere for women, like how it is for men where people are waiting in line two hours before just to watch a two-hour basketball game.”

The Texas Darlins were established in 2003 and are the official spirit group for Texas Basketball, according to their website.

“When I first (joined Darlins in 2021), I remember (the Darlins) only went to one or two basketball games, and they were our mandatory game that everyone needed to show up, and I think it was a men’s game,” Sayegh said. “Now, it has completely flipped from last year.”

Sayegh said an average of 20 girls come out every game, and her goal for next semester is to increase the number.

Barrera, Salas and public relations director Eva Nassery are set to graduate in the spring, but these ambassadors will be ready to keep the campaign going.

“We’re trying to get in contact with sororities and get freshmen and sophomores (involved),” Barrera said. “Freshmen are the ones who show up to the games because they have all that fun spirit.”

The student-run section is not officially affiliated with the University, but it is on its way to getting the green light and final approval from the Texas Athletics Department and bringing the energy to the Moody Center in the spring.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misattributed the founding of “The Herd” to 3 students instead of the full group of advertising and public relations students. The Texan regrets this error.

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