Shawn Wax
Shawn Wax, who lettered in football at Illinois from 1988-90 is Associate Athletic Director for Resource Development. Wax has been heavily involved in fundraising efforts for Fighting Illini Athletics ever since he joined the staff in the mid '90's. Check out his perspectives on Illini sports when he answers fans' questions in the chat room at Noon CT Tuesday Aug. 4. Send in your questions today.
Moderator: Welcome everyone to today's Lunchtime chat with Shawn Wax.

Pete (Chicago): What is your best memory as an Illini?
Shawn Wax: Hey Pete. I'll divide this into three parts. First, as a former player, my two favorite games were our upset of eventual national champion Colorado here at Memorial Stadium in 1990 and our 14-13 victory over USC at there place in 1989. I was lucky enough to catch a touchdown in each game. Secondly, as an Illini fan, I will always remember Nick Anderson's shot to beat Indiana, Deron William's three pointer against Arizona and Johnny Johnson's pass to Jim Klein to beat Michigan at the Big House. Finally, as an administrator, spearheading our development team that has raised over $200 Million, leading a staff that doubled football season tickets from 22K to 44K and the sell out streak at the Assembly Hall all come to mind. But, my favorite stories all involve my time spent with many, many Fighting Illini fans...but we'll have to talk about those in person.

Todd (Princeton): We love the I-decide parking system for football. It is a fair system that allows fans a choice in regards to parking. Can this be implemented for Men's basketball? Thank you.
Shawn Wax: Todd: Thanks for the positive feedback. Basketball parking is an even greater challenge than football parking as space is more limited. I think the more we can put the power of choice into the hands of our fans, the better served everyone will be. I'm in favor of duplicating the I Decide system for basketball.

lloyd Champaign: What is the probable date of the Mo/ Il basketball game? Want to start making plans. Thanks.
Shawn Wax: Hey Lloyd, Our basketball schedule has yet to be released. We're hoping to be in position to do so soon...still dotting a few i's and crossing some t's on contracts. I wish had better news for you. If you need ideas for fun, try the Braggin' Rights Buffet. Contact the Champaign I FUND office for more information.

Bellingham: If you were to be a mentor to a future AD or Associate AD, what advice would you give?
Shawn Wax: I get this question a lot from students here on campus and my advice is always the same: get involved! There are numerous opportunities to volunteer and serve on a committee as well as work as an intern or graduate assistant. The old saying goes, "It's not what you know, it's who you know". I believe it's not what you know, it's not who you know, it's who knows you. The key is to network, network, network. And that process is best done by getting involved in whatever way you can.

James (Champaign): There have been rumors that you would be a logical successor to Athletic Director Ron Guenther. Is that a role you would like to pursue?
Shawn Wax: James: Typically, I don't respond to rumors but thanks to a recent News Gazette article I think this rumor has taken on a life of it's own. As I mentioned in that article, I believe there are a number of highly qualified administrators working in the DIA that are capable of being an athletic director. As for me, I think any chance to better my career or pursue a better opportunity is always appealing. But, for now, my plate is full and I am completely focused on how to grow our fanbase and assisting Ron Guenther in securing the funding necessary for our upcoming facility capital campaign.

Bill (Chicago): Why was there no Party in the Park this year? I always look forward to that.
Shawn Wax: Bill: You and me both! That is a signature event for our coaches and staff as well as a lot of Fighting Illini fans in Chicago. This was a one-year hiatus due to an odd scheduling conflict with the Big Ten Kick-off Luncheon. Again, we love this event and enjoy working with Tommy and Eddie at Joes. I fully expect this event to be back on the schedule next year.

Bob (Wheaton): Shawn, As an I-Fund member I appreciate all you do. I was surprised that a recent Orlando Sentinel report listed Illinois as 9th in the Big Ten in revenue earnings. Any ideas for this poor showing?
Shawn Wax: Bob: I've got the list right here on my desk. The biggest difference is football revenue. The vast majority of the schools ahead of us nationally have larger stadiums. In the Big Ten, OSU, Mich, MSU, PSU, Wisc and Iowa all have larger stadiums that generate more revenue at the gate. Also, this report did not take into account the new revenue at Illinois from suites and club seats at Memorial Stadium as those were just added. I look for us to move up significantly next year. I would add that revenue generation and people are the difference makers in college athletics. As an athletic program, we ranked in the top 20 in the Learfield (Sears) Cup last year. I think that is a strong statement about the quality of our coaches and student-athletes.

AB, Champaign: Think Grandys would still be in business if they had continued to run the "Tasty 8" special?
Shawn Wax: AB: I'm picking myself up off the floor from laughing so hard. That was a fun commercial and if you ask Peter, he'll tell you it generated more revenue than any other commercial he ever ran. I think that had to do more with pricing though. Unfortunately, I was paid in gift certificates that are still in my desk drawer.

Curtis (Atlanta): Having been a Schol/Ath at the Div. 1 level, do you think the players in the two big sports BB & FB are being exploited. ie. Pay for Play
Shawn Wax: Curtis: Thanks for the easy question (sarcasm). Before answering, I strongly recommend that you reach out to the Atlanta Illini Club. We have quite a few former Illinois athletes in the area that enjoy watching Illinois sporting events. Mike Bellamy, Henry Jones and Chris Green throw some pretty good watch parties. As for your question, I can say without hesitation I enjoyed my experience and feel fortunate to have had my education paid for by a football scholarship. My education is definitely a difference maker in the quality of my life. I don't feel exploited. I think the key question is how do we improve the quality of the experience of all student-athletes regardless of sport. Far too many of these young people graduate with a huge debt despite being on scholarship. In recent years, the NCAA has tried to make headway with this by funding a student-athlete opportunity fund. It's a great first step, but I think we should and must do more.
Moderator: Thanks for all the great questions. I wish I could type faster as there are still quite a few questions in the queue. For those that I did not get to, please contact me by email: wax@uiuc.edu and I will follow up. I look to seeing everyone at Memorial Stadium this fall. Go Illini!