North Texas Daily

Administration works to accommodate students at New Orleans Bowl

Administration works to accommodate students at New Orleans Bowl

December 06
18:01 2017

After a 9-4 regular season, the North Texas football team earned the opportunity to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The excitement surrounding the program has built throughout the year as fans have awaited an opportunity to attend another bowl game — and this is their chance. It seems like a no-brainer to make the 7 1/2 hour trip to New Orleans. Well, unless you are graduating this semester.

This was a reality many students faced when they saw the date of the game, as the New Orleans Bowl falls on one of UNT’s commencement days this semester. Many students panicked when facing that choice, but President Neal Smatresk and Athletic Director Wren Baker developed a makeshift solution.

A plan was put in place to hold a commencement ceremony in New Orleans for football players, band members, the cheer squad and any graduating student who wants to attend the game.

“UNT is proud of our Mean Green football team and the great season that is allowing us to participate in the bowl game in New Orleans next week,” Smatresk said. “We also want to make sure our students have the commencement experience they deserve after years of hard work and perseverance. We will continue our commencement traditions on campus as planned. And for those who are participating in the bowl game or those students who choose to travel to New Orleans, a change in location isn’t going to keep us from celebrating our graduates and sending them out into the world in style!”

Many students have expressed an interest and seem eager to head to New Orleans, especially on social media.

For Baker, he’s seen this exact situation play out before and was sure to put in the effort to create the same opportunity for everyone involved at North Texas.

“We knew it was a possibility that we could be at a bowl game [on that day],” Baker said. “I’ve been at an institution before that has played on commencement day, and we did an on-site ceremony which was really nice for the players, the band and the spirit squad members there. When the bowl was announced an I saw some students were struggling with the decision and if they wanted to go to the bowl game, I didn’t want them to miss out on commencement. So we decided we would invite them as well.”

In an attempt to accommodate even more people, Baker and the athletic department have put together a $60 package which includes a bus ride to New Orleans, one night at a hotel and a ticket to the game.

This will be the third time in the past two years the athletic department will have a service like this, with this trek being by far the longest. North Texas had packages allowing students to travel to the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season and the Southern Methodist University game earlier this year.

“We worked with the president’s office and athletics, [along with others], to subsidize some of the student travel, so we could get that to where it was a relatively cheap fee for our students,” Baker said. “We want students to be able to go and hopefully we fill all of the buses up. We’re basically offsetting the cost of this trip by about 65 or 70 percent of it, so it’s a great deal for our students but also a great deal for our team and our university if we have a big crowd there.”

More information on the student travel package and the commencement ceremony in New Orleans can be found at

Featured Image: North Texas football fans celebrate the 46-43 win over the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sept. 23 at Apogee Stadium. Sara Carpenter

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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