Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner has raised his marketing game.
After offering to buy tickets for Tech students so they could attend the Yellow Jackets’ first-round NIT game Tuesday for free, the ACC coach of the year was in a predicament for Sunday’s second-round game against Belmont. Tech begins spring break Friday, meaning campus will be fairly deserted.
Pastner’s response: Any Tech student who attends the game can bring a guest, and Pastner will pay for both. Student tickets are $4. Tickets for a guest would cost the regular admission price of $15. If 400 students arrive with a guest — about 800 students and guests attended the Georgia game in December when Tech ran a similar promotion with the game scheduled over winter break — Pastner would be on the hook for $7,600.
Moreover, with the noon tipoff time, Pastner will buy doughnuts for early arrivers. Tech plans to order 100 dozen from the Krispy Kreme on Ponce de Leon Avenue near campus, where one box of glazed doughnuts costs $8.67. (Total calories: 228,000.) The shop happens to be owned by basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who might be persuaded to offer a volume discount.
“I’ve got to figure out how to get those over to the stadium,” said Phil Lewicki, Tech’s assistant director of marketing and promotions. “I’ve never transported that many donuts in my life.”
Lewicki said the idea for the doughnut giveaway stemmed from a desire to include non-student fans in Pastner’s promotional ploys. Other campaigns this season, like raffles for 40-inch televisions and a scooter, were also directed at students.
“Coach and I were texting (Wednesday night) and he was like, ‘We’ve got to do something,’” Lewicki said.
Despite the noon start time, ticket sales have been fairly brisk. The ticket office had sold close to 4,000 tickets as of Thursday afternoon.
For the first-round game against Indiana on Tuesday, about 1,100 students came to the game on Pastner’s dime, the largest student turnout of the season. It set Pastner back about $4,400, which he called “money well spent.”