June 30, 2010
A recent incident here prompts me to tell you about one of the model programs in the athletics department, STEP UP! It focuses on developing serious peer involvement for sticky situations in which college students can find themselves. It was developed by our C.A.T.S. Life Skills director Becky Bell. What we're promoting is a huge 'life skill' in that positive bystander intervention is a fine characteristic of our culture. We need to be proactive in teaching student-athletes that they need to be proactive and intervene, or step up, when something potentially troublesome takes place. (Common sense moves like telling a teammate, 'Hey, this is out of hand. Let’s leave.') Check out the website. It's all about doing the right thing in social behavior, and having student-athletes be confident and assume some responsibility. The STEP UP! program won an award from the national Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
Even with a strong educational program, we know there will be times where our student athletes make poor decisions. You can be confident that when those times happen, there will be a firm learning opportunity to protect the integrity of our University and Athletics Department. At the same time, we will handle each situation in the most appropriate manner for all parties involved.
A NOTE FROM BRAD
I received a note from a Tucson resident named Brad who, while not an alum, thanked us for helping offer a "big picture" of UA athletics in these periodic messages. Here’s a snippet from the email he sent me. I hope many of you feel the same way.
“I have lived in the Tucson area for over a decade, and over that time I have gradually started to follow the local teams. It was initially easy to cheer for the men's basketball team, but now I follow a number of Wildcat sporting teams casually. I will confess I have only attended a few sporting events. I was an 'outsider' and the UA wasn't ‘my team.’ But I do listen to many of the sports on the radio, and my interest level is increasing.
Through your newsletter, I'm getting a fuller appreciation of the 'big picture' of UA sports. I like the way that the "big revenue sports" are headed, but I also appreciate the national respect that the volleyball, gymnastics, baseball and softball, swimming, and other teams receive. I talk of them proudly when I travel.
To summarize, receiving your newsletter helps me feel more like an insider. I feel respected with you sharing your candid perspectives with those of us in your readership, and it is likely to increase my effort to buy tickets and attend events. I do still feel awkward ‘wearing the colors’ since I'm not a UA graduate, but maybe over time that will change too.”
EXPANDING ON EXPANSION
Now that some dust has settled with regard to the Pac-10's expansion, I have to reiterate that any separation of teams into divisions, and future scheduling, is still under discussion. But in football, for example, with 12 teams in your league, you will miss someone every year when it comes to conference play, so we know that much. All 12 schools have a stake in how the league is set up, and want to avoid being "marginalized," as one reader noted. It's too early to make any statements about this process, but we'll be working to protect our best interests along with the best interest of our conference.
DIRECTOR'S CUP FINISH
The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) sponsors the annual Directors' Cup competition to rank overall competitive success by factoring in each sport (UA softball, for example, got 90 points for its second-place finish, etc.). While the final rankings should be a day away, we expect to finish 30th. It's our lowest finish since the beginning of the Cup in 1993-94. There is no question we're not happy with that, and we'll work to improve. Speaking of cups, Arizona won the first year of the State Farm Territorial Cup. This rivalry series is an across-the-board competition against our neighbors from up the road. We'll start with that one, and get better.
PAC-10 FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN
A reader asked me about Pac-10 Football Media Day. It's not quite finalized but the league will be opening the first segment with an evening social gathering in New York City with the 10 coaches and media on July 27th. The next day they'll visit ESPN world headquarters in Connecticut, and then charter across the country to Pasadena, where the new media day format will be held in the Rose Bowl. Mike Stoops is taking junior quarterback Nick Foles as UA's player representative. Commissioner Larry Scott is taking the normal one-day event to another level.
SPRING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
We've reported some highlights about individuals who've had academic success (and all are posted at www.arizonawildcats.com as they happen), but here are a few more items to note from a spring semester report I received from our C.A.T.S. Academics staff. Some 43 percent of ALL student-athletes had grade averages of 3.0 or better; 21 percent has a 3.5 GPA or better; five teams had a combined 3.0 or higher; and 11 of 19 teams improved from spring of 2009. We want it to be 19 of 19, but all of these developments are good signs about our academic health.
A WILDCAT CAN BE ANY AGE
We like to extend our fan base in the youth market. Club Arizona is for kids in kindergarten through high school and gives young members a variety of opportunities to support and enjoy UA Athletics. Membership is free and can be obtained by visiting www.clubarizona.org. Of course, we expect our young fans to proudly wear the UA colors -- and I see all kinds of children and young adults doing so wherever I go. Keep it up!