SI Vault
Edited by Douglas S. Looney
August 09, 1976
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August 09, 1976


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Steve Robertson of Columbia, Mo. was shipped a dozen of the piranhas, and he says that if you couldn't tell what they were, there were clues: "When they chewed each other up, we were pretty sure they weren't vegetarians."


Sports information directors at colleges and universities are paid to attract media attention to their school's athletic teams, which in turn will encourage ticket sales. For winners, easy. For losers? Meet innovative Kevin DeMarrais, Columbia's SID.

Columbia has been strong over the years—in fencing, recently in baseball. But in the two sports that count when it comes to revenue, football and basketball, Columbia spells calamity. In DeMarrais' nine football seasons the Lions have been losers for eight; of the last five basketball seasons, losers all.

So DeMarrais has these hints to help other losing SIDs survive: 1) Play as many games as possible on the road. 2) An interesting angle can obscure the facts. "If you have a 5'6" left-handed Chinese quarterback, nobody cares if he can throw or not," DeMarrais observes.

He says it used to be O.K. when Columbia lost a lot because New York had plenty of winners; nobody noticed his school. But recently, he points out, "the Giants, Jets and Knicks have failed as miserably as we have."

This year things are looking up at Columbia. Honest. Basketball will be a sure winner, DeMarrais predicts; football, maybe. So he is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? "Right," says DeMarrais. "Hopefully it won't be the headlights of an oncoming truck."

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