By Jim Fryar
Globe Sports Editor
It’s a challenge that faces every college athletics department.
Missouri Southern held a golf tournament for many years, but school officials were looking for ways to expand the effort.
“We had the Rod Smith Tournament for a number of years,” said Kevin Greim, former marketing director and radio announcer for MSSU. “Unless you develop a golf tournament where you’re getting 72 teams and charging a ton of money to play, the revenue you can generate from a golf tournament is only so much.
“The other thing is golf only appeals to a certain segment of the population.”
As a result, Southernfest was born.
The golf tournament continued, but a dinner and auction were added to produce a two-day event.
“The origin of Southernfest came during one of our athletic staff meetings,” Greim said. “We wanted to grow the fundraising efforts and do it in a way that would be attractive to more people.
“We looked around at other schools of similar size, and they had put on auctions and been very successful. Sitting around the table that day, we decided it would be a good idea to pursue that and see if we can pull it off.”
Southernfest has been held the last four years at Downstream Casino and Resort, and it’s become popular among Lion fans.
The event includes numerous silent auction items like autographed memorabilia, road trips with MSSU teams, sporting goods and summer camp scholarships. There is also a live auction for bigger-ticket items like vacations, and one year two Super Bowl tickets were up for bid.
“You want fans to come to this with the ultimate mindset we are here to support the cause,” Greim said. “If an item costs $50, you hope it goes for $50 or more. You want to get people out of the mindset of low bidding, seeing what kind of bargain you can get. You want them in the mindset of I want to get an item and I’m here to help and pay full price for it.”
The golf tournament is held the day after the auction. It’s actually two tournaments as the morning and afternoon groups compete for separate prizes.
“Obviously we want to raise money,” Greim said, “but we also want it to be a truly social event and an event that the Missouri Southern fans look forward to and be proud of it.”