SMU will saddle up the pony and bring the band to Hawaii

Feature story about the whole football program, including Peruna and the Spirit Squad, going to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

By KATE HAIROPOULOS / The Dallas Morning News

UNIVERSITY PARK – Taking a trip to Hawaii for Christmas isn't cheap. Try taking an entire football program, spirit squad and even Peruna, SMU's live pony mascot.

But SMU athletic director Steve Orsini said the department is on track to bring all of the above to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, and break even.

"It's one of the more challenging financial experiences because of the high demand, and yet the high expense," Orsini said. "It's still a reward. It's an investment in our football program, one we're happy to make."

The charter for the team and others in the official travel party leaves for Hawaii on Saturday.

Orsini declined to divulge the cost of going to the bowl, but explained where the money is coming from.

The biggest source will come from Conference USA and its predetermined reimbursement policy for the Hawaii Bowl. C-USA shares all of its revenue from bowl payouts.

SMU also asked its boosters – including a key group called the Circle of Champions – to contribute toward extra expenses, such as bringing the band.

SMU will also defray some of the costs by keeping a percentage of the tickets it sells. SMU is working with supporters to buy tickets that will be distributed to servicemen and servicewomen from Hickam Air Force Base, located in Honolulu.

Orsini said he and SMU president R. Gerald Turner quickly agreed that with SMU going to its first bowl in 25 years, "we need to thank a lot of people," Orsini said. "This is a university trip."

# # #