OVERVIEW: Without question, no women's college basketball program in America has enjoyed as much of a boom in popularity and a growth among its fan base during the past six years as Notre Dame. The reason for that success in simple and can be summarized in two words – Stephanie Menio.
From the day she arrived in South Bend, Menio has worked tirelessly to make Fighting Irish women's basketball the hottest ticket, not only in town, but all across Indiana and around the country. During her career, she has been responsible for helping Notre Dame's average attendance rise by nearly 50 percent, to the point where the Fighting Irish are regularly selling out Purcell Pavilion on a nightly basis.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg, as Menio is always looking for new and creative ways to keep fans engaged with the Notre Dame players and coaches. No program in the country has a connection with its fans quite like the Fighting Irish – through in-game promotions (which include a new state-of-the-art HD video screen at Purcell Pavilion), halftime and post-game entertainment, team autograph sessions, community projects such as basketball clinics and youth empowerment seminars, and much, much more, Menio has helped Notre Dame establish a level of excellence in women's college basketball marketing and promotions that makes the Fighting Irish the standard by which other programs are measured.
FULL BIO: With an infectious personality and unwavering drive to succeed, Stephanie Menio (pronounced MANY-o) is in her seventh season as coordinator of basketball operations at Notre Dame.
Menio oversees all aspects of marketing and promotions for the Irish women's basketball program, as well as serve as director of the Fighting Irish women's basketball camps and assist in team travel (including the program's summer 2009 European tour), supervise team community service projects and other administrative duties related to Notre Dame's nationally-ranked recruiting efforts.
In her first six years under the Golden Dome, Menio has been the driving force behind Notre Dame's unprecedented growth in attendance. Since she set foot on campus in 2005, the Fighting Irish have finished among the top 11 in the nation in average attendance each season, including a No. 4 ranking in 2009-10 and a No. 5 ranking in 2010-11, the latter coming after Notre Dame registered a school-record average attendance of 8,553 fans per game. She also has overseen a 47-percent increase in that average during her six-year tenure, while the Fighting Irish have attracted 20 of the top 25 crowds in school history under her watch, including 15 of the program's 17 sellouts (11 in the past two seasons alone).
In 2005-06, Notre Dame was 11th in the attendance rankings (6,601 fans per game, a 13-percent increase over the previous season) and was the spark behind attracting the third women's basketball sellout in school history (11,418 vs. Tennessee on Dec. 31, 2005). That sellout was made even more notable when all tickets were exhausted 19 days prior to tipoff, at the time setting a school record for the fastest women's basketball sellout. In addition, with Menio at the helm during the 2005-06 season, Notre Dame saw a five-percent rise in season ticket sales, as well as a 14-percent jump in regular-season ticket revenue.
Not to be outdone, Notre Dame ranked 10th in the country in attendance in 2006-07, averaging 6,364 fans per game over a 16-game slate that was the largest regular-season schedule in program history. The Fighting Irish also attracted 101,818 women's basketball fans to the Joyce Center in '06-07, marking the second time ever that Notre Dame reached six figures in total women's basketball attendance. What's more, Notre Dame women's basketball earned a pair of "Readers' Choice Awards" in 2007 from the South Bend Tribune, whose readership selected Irish home games as the "Favorite Family Entertainment" and "Favorite Place To Take Your Kids (Regionally)" for the Michiana area.
The Notre Dame women's basketball marketing and promotions machine reached a new level in 2007-08, as the Fighting Irish ranked ninth in the country with an average of 7,016 fans per game. Notre Dame also drew a school-record 112,253 fans, topping the previous year's high-water mark, and recorded two sellouts, the second time in program history the Fighting Irish have had multiple capacity crowds at the Joyce Center in the same season. They nearly added a third sellout in '07-08, coming less than 600 fans away from selling out a December non-conference game against Michigan, but still marking the first time Notre Dame has ever had three crowds of 10,000+ fans in the same season. The Fighting Irish also were repeat winners in both South Bend Tribune "Readers' Choice Awards".
In 2008-09, Notre Dame once again ranked ninth in the country with an average of 7,168 fans per game, at the time marking the second-highest season attendance mark in school history. The Fighting Irish also had yet another sellout (earning the program the NCAA's "Pack The House Challenge" award), drew three more crowds of 10,000+ fans, and won the inaugural WBCA Pink Zone Challenge by raising nearly $50,000 for breast cancer awareness and research through the WBCA's Pink Zone nationwide initiative.
All of those accomplishments set the stage for the record-setting 2009-10 campaign, a season in which Notre Dame exhausted its season ticket allotment (close to 7,500) before a single game had been played, including sales of more than 1,000 packages to first-time season ticket purchasers. The Fighting Irish wound up posting a school-record six sellouts during their 15 regular-season home games, highlighted by capacity crowds for their final four regular-season contests of the year, and Purcell Pavilion was one of the best attended sites during first- and second-round action in the 2010 NCAA Championship, averaging 6,129 fans for the two-day event (the second-highest figure among the 16 preliminary round host sites).
Not to be outdone, Menio repeated and added to Notre Dame's marketing and promotions success in 2010-11, as the Fighting Irish once again sold out their season ticket allotment before the opening tipoff in November, with a remarkable season-ticket renewal rate of better than 95 percent. The Fighting Irish then broke their one-year-old single-season average attendance record, raising the bar to 8,553 fans/game (less than 600 away from full capacity at Purcell Pavilion) and welcoming another five sellout crowds as part of a record-setting 145,409 fans who came through the arena turnstiles during Notre Dame's run to the NCAA national championship game.
Menio's marketing and promotions savvy has been a vital force for a Notre Dame program that now has been ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance in each of the past 11 years. Besides those 17 sellouts, the Fighting Irish also have attracted each of the top 25 largest women's basketball crowds in school history since 2000-01, including 49 audiences at least of 8,000 fans, and attendance figures of 5,000 or better at 158 of the past 160 home games.
In addition to her marketing and promotions duties, Menio also coordinates Notre Dame's far-reaching community service and outreach programs, which were combined under one roof in 2009 as the Fighting Irish "Spirit of Giving" program. During the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame players spent more than 325 team hours (better than 25 hours per player) in the community, reading and mentoring young children, visiting pediatric cancer hospitals, conducting basketball clinics and pep rallies for area youth and helping to raise more than $130,000 for the WBCA Pink Zone initiative – for the second consecutive year, it's by far the most money raised by a single school for the national breast cancer charity and it raises the program's Pink Zone fund-raising total in the past three years to more than $275,000. In 2009-10, the Fighting Irish women's basketball team also earned the Notre Dame athletics department Trophy Award, which is presented annually to the Fighting Irish athletics program that performs the greatest amount of community service during the academic year.
"We would be lost without Stephanie because she's so completely indispensable," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "She wears so many hats for us and she's great at everything she does. I can't believe there's anybody in the country that's better than she is in the marketing area. What she's done for our fans and our team to get that kind of support has been phenomenal. She's creative, has a passion for it and works extremely hard, probably to the point of working two full-time jobs and never misses a beat."
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with Coach McGraw, the staff, players and especially the outstanding and loyal fans of Notre Dame women's basketball," Menio said. "From the minute I stepped on campus, I felt the passion and excitement surrounding the Irish women's basketball program. We made good progress in my first four years here, but I won't rest until we're selling out Purcell Pavilion on a night-in, night-out basis."
Prior to her arrival at Notre Dame, Menio spent the 2004-05 year as a marketing associate in the athletics department at the University of Missouri, where she focused on marketing and promotions for the Tiger women's basketball, volleyball, softball and gymnastics programs, as well assisting with group ticket sales and game management for football and men's basketball. Thanks to her efforts in '04-05, the Missouri volleyball team was ranked 19th in the nation in attendance, the gymnastics team wound up 15th in the country in attendance (a 30-percent increase), the Tiger women's basketball program saw a 20-percent increase in season ticket sales and a 21-percent increase in attendance, and the Missouri softball team recorded the seven largest crowds in the program's history, increasing attendance by 30 percent.
Before coming to at Missouri, Menio spent two years as a marketing assistant with the women's basketball program at the University of Pittsburgh. In conjunction with the debut of the new Petersen Events Center, Menio aided in the Panthers' 114-percent rise in attendance from 2002-04, including the first women's basketball sellout in school history (12,632 vs. Connecticut on Jan. 25, 2003).
Menio graduated from Pittsburgh in 2004 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, and earned her master of science degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University in 2009. Menio was born May 29, 1982, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and now makes her home in South Bend.