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Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

University of Michigan athletics launches new student loyalty program for 2012-13 season

By Kellie Woodhouse


Melanie Maxwell |

Wolverine fans, remember Rocket Man? Or the card trick at Michigan Stadium last year?

If you do, you probably remember that Rocket Man was flying toward a near-empty student section and the northwest section of the stadium was sparsely populated during the card trick.

Those pre-gaming students aren't exactly reliable at showing up on time.

That's probably about to change.

The University of Michigan athletic department has launched a brand new HAIL student loyalty program that will not only encourage early student attendance to football, hockey and basketball games, but also give students incentives to attend non-revenue sports, such as swimming or baseball.

HAIL stands for Honoring Attendance, Involvement & Loyalty and is named to resemble the Wolverine fight song, "Hail to the Victors." reported in May U-M was considering developing such a program.

The new program will award a student two loyalty points for each non-revenue sporting event they attend. Students attending revenue sports, like football, won't get two loyalty points unless they're early to games.

"In order to get full two points [at revenue sporting events] you have to at least check-in 20 minutes before game time," athletic department marketer Angela Thick told

The program is sponsored by Flagstar Bank.

So what do you get if you're loyal?

Students will receive rewards ranging from Wolverine gear to a year supply of Coke Zero to season tickets to "exclusive Michigan Athletics experiences," according to the athletic marketing department.

There will be two ways students can sign up for HAIL and check-in at games. They can either use a mobile app, which will be able to verify they're at an event using GPS location, or HAIL check-in stations located at the games.

To receive the full amount of loyalty points available, students are expected to stay at a game until the final play is made.

A handful of other Big Ten schools, including Michigan State and Penn State universities, already have established loyalty programs.

Programs can take a variety of forms. Some models encourage students to show up to games early so the student section isn't sparse. Others encourage students to attend non-revenue, and less popular, sports. U-M's new program is a blend of both.

Last year Dave Brandon, U-M's athletic director, expressed frustration with students showing up to football games late in the first- or second-quarter. At a talk before students, he implored them to attend earlier.

The loyalty program might be just the incentive students need to have one less pre-game drink and get to their bleacher seat early.

Brandon will find out soon enough.

The HAIL rewards scale:

  • 12 points: A Michigan shirt worth $10.
  • 25 points: $5 'blue bucks' deposited directly in students' U-M account.
  • 50 points: Adidas shirt and bag
  • 80 points: Students get $100 in a Flagstar Bank checking account. They also get a Victors Club priority point, which can be use for priority standing when obtaining football or basketball tickets.
  • 100 points: Students receive an invitation to a private athletic department event and get entered to win one of three grand prizes. One grand prize includes season tickets to football, basketball and hockey games for one student. Another grand prize is a $2,000 cash award and another is a two roundtrip airline tickets.
  • The highest point earner will receive recognition during a 2013 home football game.
Read about additional prizes here.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Yuck. Dumbing down the masses.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Need to improve the students football or basketball tickets as part of this program. You know, like State.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Loyalty programs: they exist because they work. And remember: this is a "first try" with this kind of program - probably, the program will be adjusted to improve the chance of increasing student attendance. I would not be too surprised to see the program expanded to include non-students and non-alumni. My direct experience with loyalty programs tells me that it doesn't really matter that "lesser schools" are the first to adopt this idea. In fact, any progress shown by those lesser schools serves as a signal to U of M that they should jump in now to avoid falling behind. Remember: AD Don Canham filled Michigan Stadium for it's historic run of sell-out crowds by sending out free tickets. Counting attendance has become a "tradition" which Michigan jealously guards - they will naturally want to ensure this continues. Bottom line: for just showing up on time, UofM students get something for free. Even the well-off students can think about showing Mom and Dad that they're doing something to save money.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

They're trying to get students to leave their pre-game parties early to go down to the Stadium for 2 points? Good luck with that one. Now if they were to offer free beer for those coming down early, that might get better results. What about the rest of us non-students who get there early every game - why don't WE get points? I feel discriminated against!!!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

You're right on with all your points (not uncommon for you). But don't be misled by the low-incentive items, people see the golden egg and that's what U of M is dangling here (free season tickets). Tee-shirts and soda pop are just consolation prizes, minimizing disappointment with the "I did get something out of this" kind of thinking. The rest of us: can sit back (as we always have!) and wait to see if Michigan football attendance is falling off at any time. The first time a remark by sports announcers indicates a less-than-stellar attendance: U of M will start thinking seriously about more incentives to boost attendance. The reason you don't get points is simple: you're already consistently showing your loyalty by buying tickets!! It's about repeat business and U of M football's reputation/popularity. Basically it's legitimate: being able to count on sell out crowds is important to U of M. Right now they're reacting just because the student section is thin until the game is well underway. Sports announcers & sports writers will comment on this: thus casting U of M football in a negative light. Notably, MSU cannot count on filling their 74,000 seat stadium: that's why MSU jumped on the loyalty incentives program. Multi-billion dollar corporations do the same thing - whenever a competitor puts the slightest dent in customer volume: they respond with something like this (and it works). So I wouldn't ever criticize Dave Brandon for adopting a proven method to "protect" Michigan's reputation (aka, "brand" - lol!).

Glen Kruse

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Kellie - It's "The Victors".


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Ew, this is gross. Reward fan loyalty with crappy t shirts, "free" adidas advertising, and poisonous coke zero? The ever-increasing commercialism of Michigan athletics continues under Dave "the BRAND" Brandon.

Geoff Larcom

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

It's worth noting in this story that Eastern Michigan University has had a very similar program in effect for several years now. The Eagle Nation Rewards Program had more than 2,000 students and nearly 200 faculty and staff participating in the program last year. Check out the program, and also come on out to Rynearson Stadium this fall to see a football game. It's inexpensive, parking is easy and the autumn scenery is striking. Most important, the games are great fun. More information on the Eagle Nation Rewards Program is available at


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

and don't forget boring! Go Eagles!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

News flash to the athletic department...over half the students don't even attend football games....for the majority football saturday is a social event first, a spectator sport second. The social opportunities are better outside the stadium than in for many. The students are not here to serve you as spectators, you are here to serve them as entertainers, kind of like a clown.

Liberty Soule

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

It's sad that the University has to bribe students to not only attend the games, but to get there early. I know the teams are getting better, but "WIN AND THEY WILL COME". Does the University really think they're going to get students to attend the games early for Coke Zero. Believe it or not, some people actually attend the games for the game. That is the "experience"!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

If I recall correctly from a recent tour guide at MSU, their loyalty program in basketball gave the students better seats at games. Now that would be an incentive! You'd have to go to 13 non-revenue games to get what, the equivalence of a sandwich. Who came up with these prizes at U-M?

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

A2Trader: It is possible to receive a victors club priority point through the program. That point can then be used toward premium seating options or away game tickets and the like. Not the same as the Izzone, but an option nonetheless.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Basketball already does this. Going to non conference games gets you better seats for the conference games (which aren't assigned until conference play starts)


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

I think that students won't give up partying to get points for a shirt.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

And what the article did not say is that the gates from sections 23 to 36 will be locked and there will be absolutely no hall passes or bathroom breaks. Also, the yellow shirted ushers are instructed that any student trying to leave, sleep, talk, or text during the game will be sent immediately to detention and have his milk and cookies taken away.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Sounds like a fire hazard... no big deal.

Rob MI

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:51 a.m.

Arriving on time isn't the only problem. How about some incentive to get them to actually stay for an entire football game, too?


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

You probably have to check out at the end of the game and can only do so when in close proximity to the stadium.

Rob MI

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

Duly noted, Theo's Brother. This begs the logistical question of how exactly they'd do that. Glad it's not my problem to deal with

Theo's Brother

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

" To receive the full amount of loyalty points available, students are expected to stay at a game until the final play is made." Read the article, my dude. :-)

Terry Star21

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

Good to see Michigan launching a much needed program such as this. I'm sure like always, many other universities will follow suit - 'Leaders and Best' ! MgoBlueForTiM....Leading in every way shape and form....


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Are you Pizza Boy? You keep making the same type of PR mistakes as Brandon, like not have you facts correct!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 4:46 a.m.

Maybe you missed the part of the article where it tells us there are other schools in the conference who are already doing this.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

As great as U-M claims to be, I do not understand why they need to encourage their own students to attend. In my days, you could not keep us away. The U-M should offer free beer for students. Maybe this will work. Go figure!


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

mmmm beer


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:23 p.m.

How pedestrian.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

You're a...pedestrian.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.



Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11 p.m.

Michigan leading the way! "A handful of other Big Ten schools, including Michigan State and Penn State universities, already have established loyalty programs."


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Those- You just showed exactly what the problem is. Those of us not able to be a part of the student body would kill for the opportunity to be at every game. The students, as you proclaimed are basically spoiled brats that can't arrive on time for an event and evidently according to you, being rewarded just for attending will fail. Maybe the focus should be on having pride for your school.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

xmo, you seem so miserable all the time. Why don't you do us a favor and just end it? @Thosewhostay, there are plenty of people that will participate in this. $5 for going to game early sounds good to me. It won't make me goto a lame sport like soccer tho.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 7:58 a.m.

Well I'm a Michigan student and I can guarantee you this idea will fail miserably. Nobody is going to arrive 20 minutes before every game just to get a Michigan shirt worth $10... the prize worth 25 points is essentially a free subway sandwich... merry freakin' Christmas. This is dumb and the fact that MSU and PSU implemented this first is not something to be particularly proud of.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

PSU seriously NEEDS some kind of program right now - but more along the lines of therapy.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

Oh?... U-M trailing other universities? I don't believe it!