August 17, 2011
The last few weeks have proven to be interesting again when it comes to the topic of conference realignment/expansion. As I hope you can appreciate, I need to be careful in what I say since a close family ember and his university he works at is involved in the latest discussions.
However, I can tell you these latest developments have given us another great appreciation for the new Pac-12 and what lies ahead for our conference under the leadership of Larry Scott.
I touched on this last time, but saw an NCAA story that put it in more perspective. It was a report on the NCAA-called summit of Division I presidents held last week in Indianapolis. One phrase struck home -- the challenges our schools face to "embed academic success as a first expectation." That's a pretty cool way of saying our priority remains clear -- to provide student-athletes with an education, and to have student-athletes and everyone connected with collegiate athletics on board with that objective as the top goal. It's the way we have to think as we plan and work toward the future while at the same time being relentless in our pursuit of championships within the NCAA guidelines. . I really think that you, our supporters, expect no less. To expand on the notion, across the board excellence -- in academics, competition, compliance and facilities - we will be leaders.
Another serious focus emerged from the university Division I presidents' summit last week, and that's general reform. Such issues as tying academic performance to championship competition, tightening of academic standards, trimming the NCAA rule book to emphasize serious breaches of conduct (and strengthen the penalty structure), and giving leagues flexibility in providing multi-year scholarships (as opposed to single-year grants). Discussion of change in intercollegiate athletics flows freely, as you might guess, but there could be some fast-tracking in some of these areas to have some immediate impact. We'll find out much more in the next several months but it's evident there are some road signs for reform.
THE WORLD OF WILDCATS
A number of our student-athletes and a coach began participation yesterday in the World University Games in China. Cross country coach James Li is serving as men's coach of Team USA, while high jumper Brigetta Barrett (USA), shot putter Julie Labonte (Canada) and high jumper Edgar Rivera-Morales (Mexico) will be competing. Also, former Cat Luis Rivera-Morales will compete in the long jump for Mexico and tennis player Natasha Marks will represent Great Britain. From women's golf, Margarita Ramos and former Cat Alejandra Llaneza will represent Mexico and Isabelle Boineau will represent Team France. Also quite recently, diver Ben Grado finished third in the 10-meter platform at the U.S. Diving Nationals and Samantha Pickens also earned a bronze in the 1-meter. Grado qualified for the Olympic trials with his finish. New volunteer assistant track and field coach Jill Camarena-Williams also will compete in the shot put at the World Championships and is among world leaders. And, speaking of Wildcats, our first competitive event in the 2011-12 season comes this weekend in California, with Coach Lisa Oyen and the soccer team at San Diego State and Pepperdine for a couple of early events on the pitch. Go Cats!
FOOTBALL IN THE VALLEY
Supporters and friends in the middle of our state should join me and head football Coach Mike Stoops at the 2011 Arizona Football Kickoff Reception in a week-plus. The event will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at the J.W. Marriott Camelback Inn in Phoenix. General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased through https://my.arizonaalumni.com/uacommunity/2011kickoff . Coach Stoops will provide a preview of the Cats' development just a week short of the season-opening kickoff against NAU... Get your tickets atwww.everydownbeardown.com; and check out the Cat Cruiser as a convenient option for transportation from the Phoenix area.
Sara Hammond Kennedy recently visited the Kennedy Space Center and its vehicle assembly building and, of course, found the occasion befitting some Wildcat colors. (Did you know? The late Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee, an Arizona alum ('65), flew two Space Shuttle missions, the last the ill-fated Challenger flight in 1986.)
CAT IN THE BUREAU
David Stein, a former track and field athlete and '88 graduate, says his tour of duty in Quantico at the FBI National Academy involves, among other tasks, getting the colors prominently displayed.
Continue to do what you can to help Arizona Athletics and:
1. Join the Wildcat Movement
2. Buy Season Tickets
3. Wear the Colors (Especially on Friday)
4. Get Others to Do the Same
Bear Down with Pride,
Director of Athletics
University of Arizona