By Mike Bohn, Athletic Director
Things are really beginning to turn at your university, and while there are challenges and a lot of work ahead of us, you really should know that things are looking up virtually everywhere you look in and around the department and across campus.
First, there are the recent accomplishments of both current and former student-athletes, none bigger than the announcement last month that Bobby Anderson will become the fourth Buffalo to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. We are working to select a game this fall when Bobby will return to Boulder from his current business ventures in California to properly honor him and all those who have been afforded college football’s ultimate honor.
Sara Slattery did us all proud when she won the women’s professional race in the BolderBOULDER and screamed “Go Buffs” moments after crossing the finish line. A few days later, the latest CU track star, freshman Jenny Barringer, captured the steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships.
Men’s basketball got a boost when Richard Roby decided to return for his junior season; that was paramount for the program, as he will be in position to lead by example for a group of talented incoming recruits, one that Ricardo Patton says is his best in his 10-plus years as coach.
We’re nearing the completion of our search to replace longtime golf coach Mark Simpson, who passed away last December. We hope to name the new coach by the end of next week, and whoever takes over the reins of the program will be in good shape, as the team has a solid nucleus around sophomore Derek Tolan, who recently finished second in the Southwestern Amateur and qualified for U.S. Public Links Championship.
And there are numerous football players on preseason watch list for top awards, including Mason Crosby and Thaddaeus Washington, two student-athletes who also are working for us in marketing and promotions this summer. Don’t be surprised if at some point your phone rings and it’s one or the other on the line.
We recently reached the 80 percent plateau in football season ticket renewals, and are still hopeful that number will continue to grow. We have a goal of selling 5,000 additional season tickets by the time the opener against Montana State rolls around on September 2.
Most of you who follow the program know that we have received an $8 million loan from the university; this is not a gift, it is something we will pay back at the rate of $800,000 annually over the next decade. What this loan does is get us out of a financial bind that was making it hard to accomplish day-to-day business. We still must and will be good stewards when it comes to budgeting our resources, and thus are working to secure new avenues of generating revenue.
We now have 47 members in the Buff Club Cabinet, a fundraising project that is barely nine months old; members of the group have committed to giving $25,000 annually for a 3-year period. Overall, there is a 43 percent increase in fundraising (actual dollars) than at this point last year. We are so fortunate to have this kind of support and look forward to continuing this trend. We recognize that all donors at every level make a difference. We even had a cool gift of over 1,000 one dollar bills show up in a cake box from a former student-athlete, that was exciting, especially thinking of how long he worked to build a full box of bills.
Projects we’re currently raising monies for include the bubble, an indoor practice facility for our outdoor sports which will also be made available to the rest of the university, in particular the club sports program. Tom and Cydney Marsico donated the lead gift of $1.5 million last December on the day Dan Hawkins was named our new football coach. We also are securing funds to relocate all basketball operations over to the Coors Events Conference Center, a project that will make things much more convenient for both basketball programs as well as create badly needed office space for the track program, sports information and the Buff Club.
We’re also trying a few new marketing initiatives, including the CU Sports Pass, an all-in-one student season ticket for both football and men’s basketball games in Boulder for just $90. That’s a savings of $15 if purchased separately and pays for itself in virtually no time. We are committed to being user friendly to all of our students and will work hard to ensure that they know how important they are to our success.
The enthusiasm of the students, who in my estimation can make or break game day in both sports, was excellent last year and we have high hopes that it can continue to grow. By the end of the basketball season, the student support group dubbed the “C-Unit” really caught on and was making a difference at our home games.
We are extremely fortunate to have great leadership at the university in president Hank Brown and interim Chancellor soon to be provost Phil DiStefano, and I am excited about our new chancellor, Bud Peterson. This is not only good news for athletics, but for every department and area of the university system and the Boulder campus. These three positions are integral to our efforts to build a viable athletic enterprise from top to bottom. We have lofty goals and high expectations for our program and strong leadership at the top is required for high achievement.
These are exciting times for our world-class university and we are focused on building a world-class athletic program to match our academic partners across campus. Many of us have been canvassing the state this spring and summer, and you’ll continue to see more and more of just that, a commitment to customer service and community outreach.