Athletics Director Greg Byrne's weekly email discussing Wildcat Athletics
April 4, 2012
Regina and I returned from New Orleans and the Men's Final Four yesterday morning. It left me looking forward to our Wildcats returning to the Final Four in the near future. During my visit I had the opportunity to have many meetings with various people around college sports.
One that stood out was a meeting that I was invited to that included myself, six other FBS Athletic Directors and NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert. The conversation was very productive and gave my peers and me the opportunity to hear from Dr. Emmert about hot topics in intercollegiate athletics. He spent a lot of time listening to us and the issues we see from the chairs we sit in. The topics included four-year scholarships, the $2,000 stipend, communication with the NCAA, television contracts, compliance and the direction of several sports.
At times over the last decade the AD's have played a lesser role in major decisions within college sports. This discussion was appreciated by my peers and me and Dr. Emmert was very genuine in wanting to hear from us in the decision making process.
GYMNASTICS OFF TO NCAA REGIONAL
Our women's gymnastics team earned a No. 3 seed and will compete in the Seattle NCAA Regional this Saturday. It's been a solid season for the No. 16 Wildcats. They'll be facing some tough competition in the regional, and the two top teams in the meet move on to the NCAA Championships in Georgia April 20-22. Let's go Cats!
SPRING GAME IS ALMOST HERE
Yesterday our staff was out at Kino Stadium for a final spring football game walk through. What a beautiful facility. We are very grateful to Pima County and the cooperation with their staff working within the Tucson Padres' schedule to accommodate us at Kino Stadium while Arizona Stadium is under construction. It's going to be a unique way to watch football on Saturday, April 14. The field will actually run from east to west across the infield and right field area.
The spring game is going to be a fun event for fans of all ages. In addition to the action on the field, we will host a Fan Fest on the east concourse with inflatables, prize giveaways, and more. Our ticket sales and Wildcat Club staff will be on hand to assist fans with season ticket and Wildcat Clubrenewals and new orders/donations. Kino Stadium's concession stands will be open and offer a wide variety of food and beverage options. The scrimmage starts at 1 pm. Gates open at 12pm and parking lots will be open around 10:30 am. Fans can tailgate before the spring game, but alcohol will not be permitted in the lots. Parking and admission is free.
This is the second opportunity for the general public to check out the 2012 football team. The first one was March 24 up in Glendale. We're still receiving positive comments about bringing the team up to the Valley for a practice. Check out the video below for a recap. And speaking of making a presence in Phoenix, Coach Rodriguez has the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the Diamondbacks' Opening Day this Friday at Chase Field. Make sure to wear the colors if you're going to the game.
GOOD SIGNS KEEP COMING
I was copied on a note to our football staff about the Rich Rodriguez Coaches Camp held this past weekend on campus. It was a very good report, notably because it cited our staff for its personal touch and interaction with the visiting high school coaches. The writer came away with an excellent impression of the program and staff.
The amount of contact our coaches have made with high school programs in our state, region and nationally is substantial and bodes well for the good health of Arizona Football through recruiting. All of our staffs in all our sports do a good job of connecting with people and it's nice to get some feedback to support my own appreciation of these efforts.
A FIRST FOR WOMEN'S ATHLETICS
It was great to see Hall of Fame softball coach Mike Candrea back on the field this past weekend to lead softball to a 2-1 series win over No. 13 Stanford. The Cardinal were mercy ruled 9-1 on Saturday thanks to Baillie Kirker's grand slam in the fifth inning. It was a picture perfect moment, literally. We are happy to announce Arizona softball is the first-ever women's sport team to be featured in a licensed, panorama photo. Blakeway Panorama captured Arizona's win over Stanford (the photo was taken seconds after Kirker's grand slam). To view and purchase a copy of the photo click here. A portion of the proceeds from each panorama sold is returned to the Athletics Department. Take a look and see if you can find yourself.
WHAT A WEEKEND AT HI CORBETT
Hats off to Andy Lopez and the baseball team for sweeping No. 2 Stanford this past weekend at Hi Corbett Field. Thank you to all the fans that packed the stands. 10,656 came through the turnstiles, the largest for a three-game home series in 20 years! We need to do a better job preparing for these large crowds. I apologize for the long lines at the concession stands and box office. In case you didn't hear, there was national network outage with Visa on Sunday that prevented us (and everyone) from running credit cards. This is a good opportunity to remind fans that the easiest way to purchase and receive tickets is to buy online and print the tickets at home. Once you try it, you'll never go back (and stand in line). The support for Arizona baseball continues to grow and it makes such a difference to those student-athletes. If you haven't been to a game yet, there's no better time than next week with No. 5 UCLA coming to Hi Corbett for a weekend series (April 13-15).
Our No. 11 men's and No. 18 women's track and field teams won 13 events at the Jim Click Shootout last weekend at Drachman Stadium, to help the Pac-12 win the conference vs. conference event, plus had Georganne Moline set the school record in the 400-meter hurdles with a 56.02 mark. She broke a 16-year-old record by Michelle Johnson. A number of other outstanding performances by Wildcats give us some real optimism for the outdoor season.
GET READY FOR THE ARIZONA ROAD TOUR
It's that time of the year again! We are hitting the road for our third annual Arizona Road Tour and reaching out to Wildcat fans across the great state of Arizona. This year we are spreading the stops over the month of May and June. Make your plans to join us and meet Coach Miller, Coach Rodriguez, Coach Butts along with me and Alumni Association President Melinda Burke. Dates and locations can be found below. Look for more information coming soon.
Nogales - Wednesday, May 9 | 5pm to 9pm
Barbara and Ramon Murillo Residence
Tempe - Wednesday, May 16 | 4pm to 6:30pm
Macayo's Mexican Kitchen
Sierra Vista - Monday, May 21| 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Yuma- Wednesday, May 23 | 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Pinetop - Monday, June 4 | 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Charlie Clark's Steakhouse
ARIZONA ATHLETICS ON YOUTUBE
Have you checked out Arizona Athletics' YouTube page lately? You'll find press conferences, intro videos, highlights, behind-the-scenes access, and more. Our video services and media relations folks have done a tremendous job creating content to be shared online. The "We Are Cats" video profiles are a great way to learn about the outstanding young men and women that we have representing the University of Arizona. This week's "We Are Cats" features Hanna Henson from the cross country team. Subscribe to our YouTube page and enjoy!
CATS GIVING BACK
Last week members of the men's golfteam visited hospitalized children at the Diamond Children's Center. By teaming up with Shine On, an organization that provides services to help comfort families who have kids in the hospital, members of the team passed out jars of fun items such as games and stuffed animals to make hospital visits less daunting. It was a great experience for the team, and we are lucky to have such fine representatives of our University who realize their duty as a student-athlete extends much further than wins and losses.
Last week's message was wrong in reporting that we finished third instead of (accurately) fourth at the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships... Also thewomen's tennis road swing in the Bay Area was flip-floppedI There are only 20 days of classes left in the 2012 spring semester, so it's a critical time of year for our student-athletes. Not only are there nine active sports, but others are involved in spring practices, and all of it adds up to full days of focus for our students. If you have occasion to meet any Wildcats in the coming days, offer some encouragement as they head into this scholastic home stretch. It's one thing to run, jump, throw, swim, catch, tumble, swing or hit, but these young adults also are reading, writing and working toward educational objectives...
·Baseball is on the road at Utah for a three-game series Thursday-Saturday after a game tonight at Utah Valley University.
·Softball is on the road in Seattle for a three-game Pac-12 series against Washington Thursday-Saturday. The team is back for a doubleheader against Utah at Hillenbrand on Tuesday and a single game on Wednesday (April 10-11).
·Men's tennis plays at the Robson Center on campus at 1 p.m. Friday against UCLA and at noon on Saturday against USC.
· Women's tennis will be on the road at USC on Friday and at UCLA on Saturday.
·Men's golf will be in Tempe for the Thunderbird Invitational at the Karsten Course on Friday and Saturday. It travels to the Wyoming Cowboy Classic Monday and Tuesday.
· Gymnastics will be at the NCAA Regional competition in Seattle on Saturday
·Members of our track and field teams will be competing in various meets - at the Stanford Invitational on Friday and Saturday, at the Mesa Classic on Friday and at the Sun Angel Classic on Saturday.
FORMING THE LETTERS
You never know who will stop by the office... Below, Tanya Hughes, former high jumper and Arizona's first NCAA Woman of the Year stops in to say hello. Seen here with Deputy Director of Athletics Rocky LaRose.
Next, on a trip to La Garganta Del Diablo, Iguazu Falls, in Argentina, Kimberly Cummings, Deborah Lasbury Cummings ('76) and Emilee Cummings do a pretty good "U-of-A' formation. The `A' hat also made the photo qualify for this week's pick.