In the nine months I’ve been at Fresno State as the Director of Athletics, last week was no doubt the toughest.
The press coverage surrounding the choices several student-athletes made is not indicative of the mission of our athletic department. I assure you that we have reinforced to our coaching staffs and all of our student-athletes our department wide principles as to how we conduct ourselves in this community, and the integrity and privilege that comes with being a student-athlete at Fresno State.
Our commitment to sustaining high GPAs, continuing to increase the graduation rate of our student-athletes and instilling within them the drive to be productive citizens remains our main focus as a department and university. At the same time, it is our goal to annually compete for championships in the Mountain West.
We were excited last week to introduce our new men’s tennis coach Luke Shields, and we look forward to seeing him lead our Bulldogs on the courts this year. Another new member of our senior leadership team, Terry Donovan, senior associate athletic director for business operations, is also on board and has already made strides streamlining our business operations.
Our 450 student-athletes are well underway in the fall academic semester and right now all of our teams are in some type of practice/training/conditioning for their given season. A quick shout out to head coach Emily Milberger-Loftin and the women’s golf team for their third-place finish in this week’s tournament at Washington State.
Next week is a special time as the university prepares to host the 2015 Homecoming festivities when our football team takes on Utah State. I want to take this time to congratulate our Top Dog recipient, Elaine Mason. Elaine has been an instrumental figure in the tennis community not only in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley but also on the United States and international levels as well. Her career has included being a Fresno State head coach, department chair and professor. We are honored and pleased to celebrate her as this year’s Top Dog!
Over the last few months, we have communicated the future of Bulldog Stadium and the renovations that are planned over the next several years. The new HD video board and sound system are just the beginning of further improvements, and I hope everyone has enjoyed them during the home games.
On Monday, Paul Ladwig and his staff will send out a survey to our donors and football season ticket holders. We are seeking your input regarding potential improvements to the stadium and to better understand your needs and desires.
We are interested in your thoughts regarding seating and other amenities that are being considered. With your feedback, we intend to further enhance the game day experience for all of our loyal fans.
Lastly, thank you to all of the Red Wavers who have attended soccer games in their new stadium, watched volleyball in the Save Mart Center and whose presence at Bulldog Stadium has moved us to the top three in attendance in the Mountain West.
I hope to continue to hear from you and look forward to seeing all of you on Oct. 10 at Homecoming.