FSU lays out 5-year strategic plan


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State athletics director Randy Spetman will present a five-year strategic plan designed to address growing concerns about the program's financial and on-field future during a meeting with the school’s board of trustees Thursday.

The strategic plan, obtained by ESPN through a freedom of information request, outlines a dozen objectives Spetman hopes to achieve during the next five years that includes renovations to facilities, increased media rights opportunities and a focus on increasing attendance across all sports.

"Recent shifts in conference affiliations from coast to coast threaten a level playing field among Division I programs," Spetman writes in a letter that accompanies the document. "Attendance throughout professional and college sports is on the decline and budget constraints grow greater each year with the annual increases in tuition, room and board associated with athletic scholarships. Our plan will put into practice methods that will address these and other challenges over the next five years."

The specifics of the plan will be discussed Thursday with board members, and Spetman has declined comment on the plan in advance of the meeting.

In the document, which has already been distributed to board members, Spetman lays an extensive set of goals, which include a focus on improvements to facilities, increased merchandising opportunities, an investment in recruiting and retaining the top coaches and athletes in the country and numerous options for reducing expenses and generating new forms of revenue to maintain "financial integrity while providing resources required for a top 10 athletic program."

Among the most significant aspects of the proposal are proposed improvements to the fan experience at both the Tucker Center and Doak Campbell Stadium. Plans for new seating and access to air conditioned plazas and other amenities are already in the works at Doak Campbell Stadium, and similar plans are being explored for other areas of the stadium. Bathrooms and concessions will also receive an upgrade, according to the proposed plan.

"We've had a team come in and do a full analysis of the stadium and come up with a plan of how we would retrofit the bowl, how we'd make it more fan friendly," Spetman told ESPN earlier this spring. "It's very expensive, and there's a phasing that would have to go along with that. … What we will do before we implement that is to presell the seats to make sure we have it sold and get our investment back. I would say in the next year or two years, you'll see that being moved forward."

Additionally, plans are being developed for a complete remodel of the Tucker center, which would include a dedicated entrance, improved parking, new seating and redesigned concessions. Previous reports suggest renovations to the Tucker Center could cost in excess of $100 million.

In addition to the new expenses, the proposal sets out a series of options for generating new revenue streams by increasing Florida State's marketing, licensing and merchandising opportunities.

Among the most notable considerations are a plan to solicit input from Nike and other retailers for recommendations on increasing merchandising sales, which could include changes to uniforms, sideline gear and logos aimed at making them more "retail friendly."

The plan also puts a focus on building fan engagement with an emphasis on driving attendance. The plan calls for a renewed emphasis by coaches in engaging with the booster club, increase promotion through internal media outlets, including Seminoles.com, and a focus on using social media to engage directly with fans and "identify and aggressively challenge negative perceptions and misinformation."

The fan outreach also includes a concerted effort to schedule marquee opponents in hopes of boosting dwindling attendance. Florida State's home football schedule in 2013 has met with apathy from a portion of the fan base, but the school has already signed agreements for a neutral-site game with Oklahoma State and with a scheduled home date against Notre Dame in 2014. Spetman said earlier this spring that additional high profile non-conference games were in the works.

The entirety of the strategic plan has been developed over the past year, and Spetman notes that it included input from fans, boosters, coaches, athletes, faculty and staff.

But for all the input, no one may have more riding on the reception of the plan that Spetman, whose contract expires in February of 2014.

"One of the agreements the president and I had was, he wanted a strategic plan for the next five years and my vision for that," Spetman said earlier this spring. "We've spent the last year putting that together … to show where we're going to go and give him some items I can be evaluated on. If he's happy with that and where we're going, then we'll talk about how long I'll get to stay."