Gus Macker Kick Off at O'Kelly's

Central Michigan University is the only college in the country to offer a course training students how to plan a Gus Macker 3-on-3, half-court basketball tournament.

Forty other Gus Macker tournaments are held nationwide, making CMU’s Gus Macker event the only tournament in the world to be completely run by students.

RPL 333’s Special Events Team hosted the Gus Macker Launch Party on Feb. 23 at O’Kelly’s Sports Bar and Grill.

“Normally it’s a city or a YMCA that takes (the tournament) on as a community event,” said Tim Otteman, founder and faculty adviser of RPL 333.  “We do it with 30 undergraduate, Recreation and Event Management students.”

The Gus Macker tournament was created in 1974 by Scott McNeal, who graduated from CMU in 1979.  However, the event has only been held on CMU’s campus for the last nine years.  RPL 333 — Productions of Festivals and Events — has only been offered at CMU for the last eight years, being created by Otteman and Dr. Lori Irwin. 

The two-credit hour course is offered by the Recreation Parks and Leisure Services Department.  There is a complete application process to enroll and only 30 students are accepted into the class.  Through this class, they learn about different approaches to managing the Gus Macker tournament, such as risk management and how to market the event.  They also learn about the history of the tournament at CMU and the finances of it.  

The execution of the tournament is the class’ final exam. 

“The money that gets raised at our event, Gus Macker, out of the goodness of their hearts, gives $10,000 back to CMU every year and goes to the CMU event center, specifically in the name of (coach) Dick Parfitt for the practice gymnasium,” he said.  “The cool part is that these students have been a part of making a $10,000 donation back to the university before they graduate as CMU alumni.”

Summer Sharrard, a junior from Essexville, took on the role of the Launch Party coordinator for this event.  Sharrard and the group provided information and promotional materials to encourage attendees to register by the April 10 deadline.  This event fundraised for the tournament costs that is to be held April 29-30. 

“We started planning the launch party back in November,” Sharrard said.  “We first went around Mount Pleasant to see what kind of venues we could use.  This year we decided to hold (this event) at O’Kelly’s because there was a big space for us to use.  The theme this year is Willy Wonka so we had a lot of fun with that.”

Wristbands to this event costed $3 which allowed attendees to receive food and drink specials. There was also a silent auction with 90 items, including gift cards, Central gear, handbags and more.  Their fundraising goal was between $2,500 and $3,000 for the night.  

“It was an assignment for the class that everyone had to bring in a silent auction item,” Sharrard said.  “We got them through businesses, some people’s parents donated items, they make them, a lot of our alumni donated items like sports tickets. That’s always really cool.”