Playing host to MU football recruits is now an equal-opportunity venture.
“It was awesome, we got to go out on the field before the game,” said Tyler Foreman, a male member of MU’s Tour Team who leads recruits through the football facilities in the Tom Taylor Building before the Tigers played Arkansas State on Sept. 4.
“The athletics facilities are incredible. It was great to see it behind the scenes,” said Foreman, a junior at MU and co-chairman of the Tour Team.
The Tour Team absorbed the responsibilities for football and baseball recruiting events when MU disbanded the Tiger Hostess and Diamond Darlings programs in August, said LeAnn Stroupe, director of visitor relations at MU, an office that heads up the Tour Team.
In July, the nationally-circulated Seventeen magazine published an article in which a woman claiming to be a former Tiger Hostess said coaches ignored her complaints about sexual harassment related to her duties as a hostess.
On Aug. 4, the MU News Bureau announced the program would be disbanded, stating “The decision to revamp the program is not in direct response to the (Seventeen) article. Rather, the decision is the result of an ongoing discussion of the topic since news of a major recruiting situation broke in February of 2004 that impacted another NCAA institution.”
MU’s Tour Team provides guided tours for prospective students, alumni groups, elementary school field trips and, now, football recruits.
For Tour Team members, signing up to guide a tour for a football recruiting event is done the same way as any other tour. An e-mail is sent to everyone on the Tour Team stating, for example, “12 tour guides needed for football recruiting event on Saturday at 10 a.m.”
“Whoever signs up on a first-come, first-served basis gets to do that group,” Stroupe said.
Three men signed up for the Sept. 4 event.
“They’re big football fans, big sports fans,” Stroupe said.
The same is true of Alysha Brown, an MU sophomore on the Tour Team and Columbia native.
“I love football,” she said. “I grew up coming to football games and tailgates.”
Brown signed up to be a Tiger Hostess this spring, before the program was disbanded, and attended only one recruiting event as a Hostess, the Black and Gold game. After the announcement in August, Brown applied for a job on the Tour Team.
Stroupe interviewed more than 30 former hostesses for Tour Team positions this fall. She hired 16 of them.
“It’s a good for us,” Brown said of working on the Tour Team. “We have expanded involvement.”
Aside from getting a free ticket to football games and a free meal, Tour Team members who work recruiting events are paid by the hour. Being a Tiger Hostess was an unpaid position.
There are a few other differences. For example, as a Tiger Hostess, Marissa Williams had never been in the press tower at Memorial Stadium. As a Tour Team member, however, she saw the inside for the first time during a tour before the Ball State game on Sept. 18.
But Williams, an MU junior and self-described football fan, said as a Tour Team member, she is no longer allowed to sit with recruits and their families in the stands during the game.
Williams was one of 20 Tour Team members who worked at the football recruiting event on Saturday.
Foreman, the only male Tour Team member to guide a tour on Saturday, was called in to work in order to accommodate a request by the Missourian to follow one of the men through the football complex tour.
The Tour Team has 59 members total this year, 13 of which are male. Stroupe planned on hiring 20 to 25 additional people this year to cover additional events, but has only hired 17 so far.
“It was a little intimidating with all the extra work,” Foreman said of coordinating tour guides for the football recruiting events this fall, “but definitely exciting.”