Sept. 28, 2011
I just returned from Dallas last night and the Division I A.D. meetings. We had a number of presenters and discussions ranging from Title IX, management structure, to social media, and we were even fortunate enough to have NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert address our group. Dr. Emmert discussed the current times of intercollegiate athletics, including the topic of conference realignment that has been so prevalent in the news of late.
With the continued focus on the subject, since it appears that the PAC-12 will keep its name and not add any new members, and since my dad's school (Texas A&M) will now officially move to the SEC, I thought I could dive a little deeper into conference realignment and expand upon my previous comments.
Throughout the past month or two I have been frequently asked (or provided with a few opinions) about conference expansion and most often how it would impact the University of Arizona and/or the Pac-12. As you can imagine, when we considered the subject, we looked at it from a few different angles:
- The impact on the UA if we added teams. We considered student-athlete experience, competitive balance, recruiting, financial impact (both from increased revenues and increased expenses), and fan experience. All of those areas would have been impacted and overall there would have been more challenges than benefits.
- The impact on the UA if we did not add teams. We looked at the same set of issues above only we knew that there would not be an uptick in revenue other than what we have already planned with our move from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12. We felt there were more positives than negatives overall.
- The impact on the Pac-12/14/16 or beyond if we added teams. We really need to consider if this makes sense from an academic affiliation standpoint? Does this strengthen or weaken our conference for many years to come for future negotiations?
- The impact on the Pac-12 if we did not add teams. Again, does this strengthen or weaken our conference for the future?
In the end, I am glad that we stayed as the Pac-12 and once again I can't begin to tell you how impressed I was with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and his leadership. Throughout the process there have been several thoughts that I had that I feel will be important to remember in the future:
- We can't lose focus on the student-athlete experience. We already have a very large geographic footprint in the Pac-12. Adding schools that would have been one or two time zones away would have been challenging to them from an academic and wear-and-tear perspective.
- The Pac-12, Big 10, SEC and ACC showed throughout this process that we were all coming from a position of strength. A large part of that strength came because all of these conferences have equal revenue sharing. I commend our partner institutions who united in the past year to change our previous stance as a conference from an unequal model to our new equal model. It already has shown its worth and is something we should never lose sight of.
- It is important that the main players involved communicate effectively throughout the process. Communication between the Conference, President's and Directors of Athletics is critical. I was very fortunate that President Sander and I were in regular discussions and we were able to discuss the pros and cons and then approach this from a united front.
While there still maybe movement in other parts of the country I am glad with where we are and hope that stability will be here to stay.
Thank you to the thousands of parents and family members who joined the UA's Family Weekend festivities. It's always great to welcome our extended Wildcat family to campus. We hope you'll join us more than once a year, and, of course, would like to see you at our events supporting our teams and student-athletes. Below, the Razzano family enjoys some family time at the football game.
PRESENCE IN PHOENIX
In our continuing efforts to establish the entire state of Arizona as Wildcat Country, we are pleased to announce that Darrell Brooks is returning to the University of Arizona Athletics Department as Assistant Director of Annual Giving in Phoenix. As a four-year starter (2002-05) eventual All-Pac-10 defensive back, Darrell possesses a deeply rooted passion and enthusiasm for the Wildcats as well as a high level of experience of what it means to be a student-athlete. His determination and work ethic will enhance the vision and mission of Arizona Athletics in Maricopa County.
As you well know, we have a large alumni base in Maricopa County, it is a critical media market and there will be many student-athletes that we recruit from that area. Darrell will be responsible for increasing our season ticket numbers, Wildcat Club memberships and the identification and cultivation of major gift prospects. We encourage you to contact Darrell if you are in this area, he can be reached at email@example.com.
Tom Theodorakis, who was based in Phoenix for the past year, has been promoted and returns to McKale Center. After a great year in Phoenix, we determined that Tom would be able to make a greater impact on the Wildcat Club in Tucson as we strive to increase our membership from 9,592 to12,000 members. While Darrell will be our "anchor" staff member in Phoenix, all of our staff including myself, will continue to foster relationships with fans, friends, and alumni of the UA in the greater Phoenix area.
CREATE YOUR UA LEGACY
Arizona Athletics wants all our student-athletes and sports to leave their mark or legacy at the UA. Actually everyone wants to have a legacy. So when the time is right, please consider creating your legacy with Arizona Athletics. Leaving a gift through your will, helps support our student-athletes and sports for generations to come. Click here for more information on how to get started planning.
Did you know you can receive income back for the rest of your life. If you are 65 years or older, a charitable gift annuity may be a good fit for you and Arizona Athletics. Click here for more information.
FOLLOWING THE RULES TAKES FOCUS
There are many rules and guidelines to which we must adhere in order to keep our program functioning on all cylinders. Compliance has to be a choice for us, not something we discover in hindsight. We can't let a failure to think beforehand hurt us. One of the things that can cause problems in today's world is social media and its widespread use.
For example, we cannot forward, post, link or re-tweet any information or comments about a prospective student-athlete who has not signed a National Letter of Intent. This prohibition includes our coaches, our staff and our student-athletes. What might seem like a simple hoorah message on Twitter or Facebook can be a violation.
The rules prohibit "representatives of our athletics interests" from recruiting in any way shape or form. In days gone by, contacts, phone calls and letters were the concern, now we must add the new technology. It takes 20 seconds online to "publish" statements that are stuck in the ether forever. We all should keep recruiting the shielded process that it is and save our accolades for signing-day celebrations.
We hope you'll join us for the men's basketball Red-Blue game. We hope to have a great crowd for what is an important event to kick-off our season. Check out video message from Coach Miller and Derek Williams. We've asked our staff to help keep all our buildings as presentable as possible, and it's making a difference. Everyone can help by using the proper receptacles for recycling and trash, and picking up after others if they miss the targets. One little out-of-place scrap can impact how visitors feel about our facilities, department and about the Wildcats, and it takes just moments to make it right... You may have noticed cross country runner Lawi Lalang's first-place finish in a prestigious meet in St. Paul., Minn., last week in record fashion. He's is great shape to contend for the national title for the next four years. Meantime, Jen Bergman finished third on the women's side and helped our team to a third-place finish among 26 teams in the meet... Our teams all are road warriors this week, with football at USC, volleyball in the Bay Area, soccer at Boulder, Colo. (in our first Pac-12 visit to Colorado), men's golf in Albuquerque, and starting Monday the women's golf team in Chicago and the men's team on to Birmingham, Ala... Our next football home game is three weeks away, and it's on a Thursday (Oct. 20, for an ESPN broadcast). We'll be sending out more information about campus traffic and other recommendations to make the non-Saturday event run smoothly for the University of Arizona proper and our fans and supporters... This week's mascot match-up is WILBUR vs. the OREGON DUCK. Don't forget to cast your vote by texting Wilbur to 78527, or vote online by clicking here, or on facebook...
The Wildcat Movement is everywhere. Below, at left, are Tucson firefighters Chris Conger and brother Jason Rhyner at Ground Zero in New York City for the 9/11 anniversary weekend, and at right are Liese and Nathan Rothkopf at Denali National Park in Alaska, showing the Cat claws.
MEET THE TEAM
Young Ethan Wolk turns 1 this week. His mom, Brittany Morgan Wolk ('06) says he's already talking about being a Wildcat. At left, he got his start in a bucket and at right checked out the Meet the Team scrimmage in August.
Continue to do what you can to help Arizona Athletics and:
- Join the Wildcat Movement
- Buy Season Tickets
- Wear the Colors (Especially on Friday)
- Get Others to Do the Same
Bear Down with Pride,
Director of Athletics
University of Arizona