Athletics Director Greg Byrne's weekly email discussing Wildcat Athletics
Athletics Director Greg Byrne
April 13, 2011
This is a reposting of the Wildcat Wednesday weekly email sent by Athletic Director Greg Byrne to all the wildcat fans around the country. If you would like to sign up to receive the email directly please sign up here. THANKS FOR THE STILL-FRESH MEMORIES
Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams announced just a few hours ago that he will forego his eligibility at the University of Arizona and turn professional for the June NBA Draft. This young man put together a very special season and helped us invigorate our program, and we wish him only the best. The decision includes a nice choice by Williams -- he's to stay in school and finish his spring-semester classes in order to leave in good standing. Thanks, Derrick, for a great year and a thoughtful finish to your UA career. We have no doubts about your ability to compete at the next level.
REPRESENTATION SPEAKS VOLUMES
I had the pleasure of accompanying Derrick and Sean Miller to the Wooden Award dinner last week in Los Angeles. Some of you no doubt saw some of my remarks on Twitter, but let me say it again – those two men are outstanding ambassadors for the University of Arizona, and fine public stewards in our quest for excellence. We all enjoyed Derrick's play this season, but sharing some private moments with him and watching him operate in public like that was impressive. Being around people like this -- and the many others we have across the board in our men's and women's programs -- is what makes college athletics so worthwhile.
Speaking of good people, Katie Matusik, a co-captain on the Women’s Gymnastics team has been selected as the Pac-10 Female Sportsmanship Award winner for 2010-2011. Katie, who had been a starter on the uneven bars all season, gave up her spot at the Pac-10 Championships so a teammate who had only performed in the exhibition spot could compete. The day before the competition began, Katie offered the spot that she had secured and fought for all season, stating that her teammate deserved this chance. Katie will now be considered for the National Sportsmanship Award. Good luck, Katie!
As you know by now I’m a big proponent of social media. It’s a great tool for sharing information with our passionate fan base. However, social media and our 24-hour news cycle can also lead to rumors and information being distributed that just isn’t correct. In this case there is apparently inaccurate information regarding Coach Miller’s future at Arizona still being circulated. I hope you don’t mind if I directly answer the questions that have been raised as a result.
As I have previously shared, Sean and I have had great discussions, both during and after the season, about our basketball program and our desire to keep him as our coach for a long time. With a Pac-10 Championship, Elite Eight appearance, and newly renovated training facility, he made it clear as can be that he is very happy at Arizona, and that sentiment has not changed. Our next step in the process is to bring his contract extension to the Board of Regents in June for their approval. I do think it is a great testimony to him and our program that he would be mentioned for other jobs. It just shows the quality of coach and person he is.
THE WILDCAT MOVEMENT
We launched our first ever Fund Drive to increase membership in the Wildcat Club last week, and I have to say the early response has been fantastic. We added more than 200 members in less than a week (from 30 different states!), made some immediate strides in spreading the word farther than ever before and truly saw how a grass-roots effort to build support can be received in dramatic fashion. Every member counts! That's the bottom line. We want ALL our friends and supporters to feel a part of the progress we're making and we will do everything in our power to convey that appreciation. Keep up the good work!
WELCOME BACK, ERIC
We announced Eric Hansen as our new director and coach for men's and women's swimming & diving, replacing departing legend Frank Busch as he heads off to USA Swimming. Welcome back, Eric! Hansen, UA Class of '90, comes to us from Wisconsin, where he's been head coach for 12 seasons. He was Big Ten Conference coach of the year in 2003, will be head coach for the American team at the World University Games this summer in China, and is a former UA assistant under Frank here from 1996-99. We trust our swimming program will be able to continue its dominance under the new management.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Make sure to mark your calendars as we are coming to an Arizona City near you. The second Annual Arizona Road Trip kicks off April 25th when we head to Douglas, Arizona. Click here for the complete list of dates, times and stops. Arizona is Wildcat Country! Come support head coaches Mike Stoops, Sean Miller and Niya Butts along with Director of Athletics Greg Byrne as we travel the state to meet all of Wildcat Nation.
THE SPRING GAME IS HERE
The UA football team concludes its annual spring practice with the Spring Game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Arizona Stadium. The keys for the 2011 Cats are its young offensive line -- with potential freshman tackle starters Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele -- defining the leaders in the secondary, and recovering that will to win that we showed so well through much of the season a year ago. Coach Mike Stoops reports progress on all fronts and you can see the sanitized version this week. (No coach likes to give away everything). The event starts at 10:30 a.m. with a Fan Fest on the McKale Center lawn. There will be fun activities for the whole family including interactive booths for kids, the inflatable obstacle course, and a photo booth to snap a picture with your favorite Wildcat, Wilma. There will be music, food, a chance to win Arizona prizes and an autograph session with former Arizona “greats” starting at 12:30 p.m. Concession stands as well as free seating will be in the east stands of the Stadium. Also this weekend, we'll be welcoming back football letterwinners for some alumni activities. Please come out and join us!
We are eager to welcome back Eben Britton and Mike Thomas for the Wildcats spring game this Saturday. We are most impressed with the academic effort have both made in this year’s offseason: Eben and Mike have been attending classes on campus this spring in order to graduate in May. Their commitment to excellence and investment in their education has been a great inspiration to those around McKale Center. Thank you Eben and Mike for all your hard work and dedication to the program!
ANNUAL STUDENT-ATHLETE AWARDS
Last week we noted our C.A.T.S. Awards banquet but felt it appropriate to point out a few highlights from the evening. Each of our teams was well represented with most of our 480 student-athletes in attendance. Many were honored for numerous athletic, academic and service achievements. Football's Colin Baxter, a December graduate and finalist for the Rimington Trophy, was named outstanding male student-athlete in winning the Saphire Award. Ify Ibekwe of women's basketball and Brittany Lastrapes of softball shared the Ruby Award for the outstanding female student-athlete. Ify was Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and Brittany is a probable four-time All-America selection and Player of the year nominee. We cited 89 degree recipients during the 2010-11 season, recognized our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee members and heralded the192 student-athletes who earned 3.0 or better grade point averages. Volleyball's Paige Weber was named Valedictorian and women's tennis' Ariane Masschelein was Salutatorian. In addition, the C.A.T.S. Silver Anniversary Award was given to Football Letterwinner LaMonte Hunley and Volleyball Letterwinner Mary Kay Klein. This award is given to former student-athletes who competed a minimum of 25 years ago and recognizes the significant impact they have had within their community, the University of Arizona and within their chosen profession. All in all, the night honored some very remarkable Wildcat student-athletes.
POINTING TO 2011-12
We're just about finished with a battery of unit budget meetings with coaches and staff, and we had our monthly Intercollegiate Athletics staff meeting this morning. A number of issues are important, as always. Wrapping up this fiscal year in good financial shape is critical, and planning for more of the same in 2011-12 is a huge chore. We've asked our staff to assume responsibility for smart choices in these and, most certainly, compliance matters. Two things underscore continued department success in this business: smart financial decisions and very sharp focus on following the rules. Needless to say, we have to recruit and coach better than anyone, too. The Wildcat Movement is growing and we want it to be all-inclusive.
Renewal statements for 2011 football season tickets and Wildcat Club charitable giving benefits for 2011-12 (including men's basketball priority) have been mailed. We are appreciative of those of you who have already chosen to renew. We continue to have more and more of you renew through our online renewal system, which will be available through the May 2nd renewal deadline. Thank you!
MEN’S BASKETBALL TICKETS AVAILABLE, Non-Priority Season Ticket Deposits Available
Deposits are now being accepted for 2011-12 new non-priority men's basketball season tickets! Just 300 seats remain and will be sold through this exclusive offer. Deposits will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. A $100 per-seat deposit guarantees your non-priority seats for the upcoming men's basketball season. Final ticket prices will be determined in July. Your deposit will guarantee you seats now and the deposit amount will be applied toward your final balance. Non-priority seats are located in the upper-level, sections 102-114, 116-119, and 125-126. All seat locations will be assigned to those accounts securing seats through a deposit, and based on the Priority Point system after the renewal deadline in September.
PAC-10 TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
We are hosting the Pac-10 Conference Track and Field Championships in May -- with combined events on May 6-7 and the primary meet on May 13-14. Tickets to the meet may be purchased here.
CAT AND DOG
Here's a photo of Chris Matheus, Class of '81, and dog Micah of North Carolina. We know they were pleased we beat Duke a few weeks ago...
Here's to a strong finish by our spring sports. We're pleased to be ranked No. 19 in the latest Learfield Directors' Cup standings, one current measure of all-around competitive performance by Division I athletics programs. There are other ways to look at institutional success (i.e., 89 college graduates) but it's good to rate strongly on this yard stick... A lot of our success in this segment of the standings comes from the strong finishes our men's and women's swimming & diving teams had in the NCAA Championships. Our men were fourth and the women were fifth, another outstanding year for the programs… Women’s basketball player Ify Ibekwe was the #24 pick in the second round by the WNBA Seattle Storm… Senior gymnastMiranda Russellwas named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team for the third consecutive year, and junior team mateBritnie Jones was named to the second team…Our softball team, battling for first place in the Pac-10, plays Washington in a key three-game home series at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday through Sunday... The baseballsquad will battle to improve on its 22-11 records on the road for a league series at UCLA Friday through Sunday... Men's and women's track & field teams -- both having outstanding seasons -- will travel to the prestigious Mt. Sac Relays and Long beach Invitational for some late-season tune-ups in California this weekend. Track & field sophomore Julie Labonte, set a career best throw in the women’s shot put and was named the Pacific-10 Conference women’s Field Athlete of the Week... The women's golf team travels to Tempe for the Pac-10 Championships Sunday through Tuesday at the Karsten Golf Course. Good luck, Wildcats!
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