Athletics Director Greg Byrne's weekly email discussing Wildcat Athletics
June 20, 2012
ROCKY LAROSE WILL RETIRE AFTER THE 2012-13 ACADEMIC YEAR
When you think of the history of University of Arizona Athletics there are a few names that first come to mind: Pop McKale, Fred Enke, Mary Roby, Lute Olson, Mike Candrea and Rocky LaRose.
Rocky has an incredibly storied history with Arizona: Alumni softball player, homecoming queen (I had to put that in there), 33-year employee who has provided leadership and support to help position our department as one of the leaders in intercollegiate athletics… The accomplishments and recognition could go on and on.
When I became AD at Arizona, Rocky was already thinking about retiring. I quickly asked her if she would be willing to stay for three years as our Deputy Director of Athletics and No. 2 in the department because of her value and incredible commitment to the UA. For me, Jim Livengood and Cedric Dempsey she has been a critical component of our leadership teams and has been directly involved in every major decision that has happened in our department. Rocky is luckily not leaving us right away, but her pending retirement will leave us with the tremendous challenge of filling her role.
To help us prepare for the time when Rocky retires, we announced last week at our senior staff retreat that Associate Athletics Director Erika Barnes will become our Senior Women’s Administrator and a Senior Associate Athletics Director at the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year. Like Rocky, Erika is an alumni softball player (starting first baseman on a national championship team) and has played a key role in the Wildcat Club and our major gift efforts. She will begin to limit her involvement with our development efforts and work more closely with Rocky and our Executive Team over the next year.
Over the next year we will have many opportunities to pay proper tribute to Rocky and will keep everyone posted on those activities. Thank you Rocky for everything you have done and will continue to do for the University of Arizona!
OMAHA, OH MY…
No doubt you’re following the Wildcats’ early success at the College World Series in Omaha. We’re 2-0 and in some control in one side of the bracket. We play again tomorrow at 2 pm Tucson time in one of two chances at earning a right to play in the Championship Series for the NCAA title. The Championship Series is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (if necessary). All games are on ESPN or ESPN2.
Spending some time around the players has been really enjoyable, and spending time at TD Ameritrade Park has been enlightening. It’s a fabulous venue and drives home what our Lowell-Stevens Football Facility will do for Arizona Stadium. Things don’t necessarily have to be brand new, but they have to be right. We’re confident we’ll be taking a huge step toward returning our stadium to a welcoming, embracing and dynamic place where the Cats and their followers can flourish.
THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
Yesterday I received a note from a fan about a family trip to Omaha to support Arizona baseball in the CWS. The fan raved about the manner in which Coach Lopez and the student-athletes represented themselves. This is what it’s all about when we talk about our goals and principles. This is a great example of “Represent the University and Athletics Department in a First-Class Manner.” Please click here to read the note.
PAC-12 TELEVISION SELECTIONS
The early Pac-12 Networks television selections have been made and show what league commissioner Larry Scott and network boss Gary Stevenson have been talking about. Arizona has been pre-selected to play two home football games on the Pac-12 Networks, plus six of our soccer games (four home games) and 13 of ourvolleyball games will be shown on the P12N (my acronym) including six home contests from McKale Center. The latter two sports’ profiles on national television is unprecedented, as promised. More football will be picked during the season and men’s and women’s basketball announcements will be made when appropriate. It’s an exciting time for our league. One thing yet to be resolved is the fact that some satellite carriers have not made agreements to carry the league’s offerings. We certainly want this to happen as many of our fans are subscribers to those entities. One thing is for sure, if the Pac-12 Networks launch in mid-August, the issue better be resolved next month. Make sure to continue to voice your opinion to your TV provider if you’re not on schedule to receive the Pac-12 Networks in August. Click here to find out if you are set to receive the Pac-12 Networks.#IWantPac12Networks
LEARFIELD CUP FOR OVERALL EXCELLENCE
We won the State Farm Territorial Cup Series prize, now we’re moving up the charts on the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings for all of Division I. Our spring sports helped push us to a current No. 23 standing that in all probability will change to top 20 when baseball is finished. For sure we’ll move past three teams that did not compete in the NCAA Baseball Championships and we have a chance to pass a fourth. The final standings will be issued by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics later this month.
Please make plans to join us Friday, June 29 for our first ever Google+ Hangout. It’s basically a live video chat with me and selected guests. Everyone will have the opportunity to participate by either being one of the selected guests or by submitting questions via Facebook and Twitter. This will be a fun and interactive way for me to present a “State of Arizona Athletics” update while answering some of your questions. To view live you will have to follow our Google+ page. Click here to start following. Look for more information next week
ALOHA ARIZONA BASKETBALL
Men’s basketball and the Pac-12 are putting the final touches on the 2012-13 schedule. Look for a release sometime in the near future. One of the highlights of the non-conference schedule is a trip to Honolulu, Hawai’i for the 2012 Diamond Head Classic. Arizona highlights a field that will include East Tennessee State, Hawai’i, Indiana State, Miami (FL), Ole Miss, San Diego State, and San Francisco. The tournament is December 22-25. I can’t think of many better ways to celebrate the holidays than Arizona basketball and the Hawaiian Islands. Our friends at Bon Voyage Travel have travel and ticket packages available now. Contact Katie Clark at 520-797-CATS or e-mail her at email@example.com for more information. Mahalo!
NCAA APR UPDATE
The NCAA released the 2010-11 Academic Progress Rate results earlier this week. The APR scale judges student-athlete academic progress, retention and timely graduation of all NCAA Division I institutions. All 19 U of A sport programs earned a multiyear (four-year average) APR score above the minimum 925 after the 2010-11 academic year, meaning there will not be any penalties assessed to our program. Additionally, the APR report showed the UA football and men's basketball teams finished in the top half of the then-Pac-10 Conference. Kudos also to men’s basketball, men’s cross country, men’s golf, gymnastics, softball andwomen’s tennis for their perfect annual APR scores of 1000, and especially to gymnastics and men’s golf for their perfect 1000 multiyear APR scores! We still have some work to do in our other sports but I’m very pleased with the amount of progress we’ve show in the last few years and I encourage our student-athletes to continue their hard work and dedication to their studies.
WILDCAT MOVEMENT – 12,000 MEMBERS BY 2013
We have Wildcat Club members in every state except New Hampshire and Rhode Island! The Wildcat Movement is spreading across the country and we are trying to get representation from every state - help us by spreading the www.WildcatMovement.com link to friends and family. We are closing in on 10,500 members - make a tax-deductible gift to support Arizona student-athletes today!
One of our incoming freshmen scholarship soccer players, Lexe Selman, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer shortly before her graduation from high school, a twist that obviously has played havoc with her plans. A few days out of a chemotherapy session, and with a catheter still attached, Lexe was put in a tourney game in late May by her coach as a testament to her tenacity and elite level dedication she’s shown over the years. The plan was for her to start the game, then kick the ball out of bounds and jog off the field. Well, the plans went smoothly, but Lexe opted to not kick the ball out of bounds… and instead scored a goal in the opening minutes. Wow. As a National Letter of Intent signee for the fall class, we hope Lexe will soon arrive at the UA, but in the meantime we have great pride in her courage and give her and her family our best. Continue to Bear Down, Lexe!
DEMPSEY A NAMESAKE AT NCAA
Former UA Director of Athletics, Cedric Dempsey, a man whose vision of greater things helped move the NCAA from the Kansas City area to downtown Indianapolis, was honored this week with the formal dedication of the association’s original building on the NCAA campus there to the Dempsey Building. Cedric’s tenure at the UA helped our school cement its national reputation and helped us become one of the initial combined men’s and women’s program, among many accomplishments. A former colleague noted this week that Cedric “believed in the notion that those who coach are teachers, and their impact on the lives of young people is as profound as any other professor on campus.” Congratulations, Dr. Dempsey.
A-CLUB LETTERWINNERS UPDATE
Arizona Athletics would like to congratulate Jill Malina as she takes her softball career to the next level in Enkoping, Sweden! Jill will be playing outfield for the professional Swedish softball team Enköping Base & Softball Klubb. Jill was a softball letterwoman from 2006-09 and in 2010 was the student assistant coach for Arizona softball. Jill is a proud two-time NCAA Champion and Pac-10 first-team All-Academic. After graduation, Jill decided to stay in Tucson and begin her teaching career at La Cima Middle School, in addition to being the head varsity softball coach for Mountain View High School. Jill has and will always represent Arizona in the highest regard and GA KATTAR! (which means GO CATS in Swedish)…Bear Down!
WEARING THE COLORS - PRAGUE, OMAHA, AND LAWRENCE
Two different spots, but the colors go far and wide. Below, Terry Valenski and his Czech colleagues make the U of A sign from Prague, middle, Kevin Conway (from the note above) and his two daughters, Nicole and Madeline, supporting the Wildcats in Omaha and creating life-long memories. And the one at bottom comes to us from UA Bookstore Director, Debby Shively. Looks like her great nephew, Mike did a great job of showing his UA spirit at the Kansas basketball camp with Coach Self. I guess you can say that Kansas is Wildcat Country too!
Continue to do what you can to help Arizona Athletics and: