Aug. 25, 2010
We’re starting a new tradition this football season called the “Wildcat Walk.” Two hours prior to kickoff, the football team will arrive at the corner of Cherry and University Ave. on the Mall and then walk south on Cherry to Arizona Stadium. I want to encourage all our fans to be there to greet the team as they get off the bus. The “Pride of Arizona” marching band and the cheerleaders will be part of the procession. I hope this new tradition is something that you will embrace and enjoy for years to come. We will remind you a few more times before the first home game.
IT’S ON, FOR REAL, THEY COUNT
Speaking of the first game, I am excited to be heading into our first full year of competitive action as the UA’s athletics director. This week our soccer team travels to California for its season opener at San Diego, with a game against Pepperdine to follow. The volleyball squad will head for South Bend, Ind., and three games in a tournament at Notre Dame. Best of luck to both teams, and Bear Down! Right behind them, of course, is the football opener Sept. 3 at Toledo (nationally televised on ESPN) and the cross country squads’ debut action in Flagstaff on Sept. 4.
On Monday, President Robert Shelton and I addressed all teams, coaches and the entire staff in McKale Center at a welcome-back event. Some of the messages included our priority emphasis on scholastic well-being, the fact we’ll be complying with ALL the rules, stepping up for one’s teammates, and how we expect a superb academic and competitive 2010-2011 season. I can tell that there are many leaders among this group of Cats. We asked them to work on establishing their legacy from the very beginning of their careers.
CLASS ATTENDANCE POLICY
Our first goal we list as a department is to “Graduate our Student-Athletes.” That has to be our top priority and it must be at the forefront of every decision we make as a department.
Every once in a while someone reminds me that I did not graduate from the University of Arizona :). In spite of my academic shortcomings, I know that when a student goes to class it greatly improves their academic performance. That is why we unveiled to our coaches and student-athletes a new departmental guideline on class and academic support attendance. Bottom line, we now have departmental standards that a student-athlete must abide by or they will not compete in their event(s). What this does is create clear guidelines that everyone can understand, creates peer pressure from their teammates on attending class and it will be an important piece of the puzzle for our graduation rates and other academic numbers to be reflective of where we all want them to be.
HEADING SOUTH FOR FOOTBALL GAMES?
…If so, perhaps the Cat Cruiser bus service could help you comfortably reach UA football games from the Phoenix area without making the drive yourself. The University of Arizona Alumni Association offers a fun trip to Tucson. One bus picks up patrons at Phoenix and Chandler, and a second will have stops in north Scottsdale and Scottsdale. Each bus leaves four and a half hours before kickoff. Check out the Cat Cruiser website for detailed information. We want our Valley faithful in the stands!
HOOPING IT UP
A number of you no doubt have received your renewal forms for men’s and women’s basketball tickets, which also are currently being sold to the general public along with season tickets for women’s soccer and volleyball. Football is our best opportunity for economic growth (I’ve said many times), while men’s basketball generates a great deal of our revenue. But supporting the Wildcats comes in many forms and colors, and we sure want excited crowds at all of our sports events. If you think I’m acting like a salesman – hey, you’re right. Each of our 500-plus student-athletes loves spectator support, and they all deserve it. ‘Game On’ takes many forms…
SPEAKING TO THE STUDENTS
Tomorrow evening, I am speaking to current UA students and ZonaZoo members at McKale about the upcoming season. I will be addressing several topics including our recently launched Student Wildcat Club, our new “Bear Down with Pride” initiative on sportsmanship, and the importance of student support at all our home games. I have heard that we have the best student section in the Pac-10 and I’m really looking forward to interacting with them.
FLYING THE FLAG
Rob Elias of Pima Federal Credit Union in Tucson notes that his company’s six outlets here now fly the UA flag on Fridays, when it also dispenses with its normal dress code and encourages employees to wear the Red and Blue. That’s taking our Wildcat Fridays to a super level and I hope that other Tucson business will consider doing something similar.
…You may have noticed the story about football camp on Page 1 of the New York Times sports section Sunday. Reporter Billy Witz of California pitched the piece after meeting Mike Stoops at Pac-10 Media Day and was sent to Fort Huachuca for the piece… We have sold more than 25,000 season football tickets and still need to sell a couple of thousand more to set a record. Some of you may remember when Lute Olson suggested in 1984 that it was smart to get season basketball tickets while they were available. Let’s hope we’re in that same boat for football…
Director of Athletics
University of Arizona