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I hope that you are having an enjoyable summer. Around the athletics department at Baylor, we will be bringing summer to a close in short order as our fall sport student-athletes begin reporting in early August, less than two weeks from this writing.
It has been a very busy and productive summer for Baylor Athletics with numerous building projects and improvements underway. We are looking forward to the completion and dedication of the Lt. Jack Whetsel, Jr. Basketball Practice Facility in August. This facility will be an incredible enhancement to our men's and women's basketball programs. The Willis Family Equestrian Center project is also well underway and will be ready for the fall equine season. Upon completion of the final two phases of this project, we believe that this will be the nation's finest collegiate equestrian facility.
We have a number of improvements at Floyd Casey Stadium that our fans will appreciate. The Gale and Connie Galloway Suite has been renovated and significantly upgraded; the Bear Club seating project is progressing well and will improve the spacing and comfort in this section; the heritage project celebrating the tradition of Baylor football will be completed in August; a new football marquee is being installed at the entrance to FCS on Valley Mills Drive; and, a football recruiting center is being completed on the Northwest corner of the Stadium. All of this progress is a result of successful fundraising and excellent stewardship of our resources.
Speaking of development success, congratulations is in order to the Baylor Bear Foundation staff and volunteers on a record-breaking year. The BBF raised more than $3.3 million in annual contributions and I want to thank each of you for your generous support. We need to continue this growth!
The opening football game against TCU is only six weeks away and the excitement is building. Season tickets and individual game tickets are available by calling 710-1000. I am sure that you have seen the multi-media marketing campaign promoting Baylor Football. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response and a great deal of local buzz to this outstanding work by our marketing staff in concert with The Richards Group. As a result of this excitement and anticipation, there has been a run on football season tickets this week.
With so much athletics and academic success, it should not be surprising that our coaches are recruiting at a very high level. Across the board, Baylor is attracting exceptional talent and as just as important, student-athletes who desire to excel in the classroom. I am often asked why recruiting is going so well and I believe that it is a combination of factors: outstanding coaches, state-of-the-art athletics facilities; excellent academic reputation and high graduation rates; a beautiful campus in an ideal location in central Texas; the university's Christian commitment and character-building qualities; and, the success and momentum of the athletics program.
At the recent Board of Regents meeting, I had the opportunity to provide an update on Imperative X of Baylor 2012, Build with Integrity a Winning Athletic Tradition in All Sports. I shared with the Regents that our central focus has been on the first part of Imperative X - Build with Integrity. We have strived to saturate Baylor Athletics with integrity through hiring practices, professional development and leadership training, commitment to compliance and being mission centered. We have made great progress in this regard over the past few years.
God has shown us great favor. Athletics highlights from this year include having 13 teams advance to postseason competition and eight teams finish ranked in the Top 20 nationally. Baylor has had its two best all-sports years consecutively with 32nd- and 25th-place finishes in the NACDA Director's Cup. Academically, Baylor placed 371 student-athletes on the Big 12 Academic Honor Roll while we led the conference in four-year NCAA graduation rate.
On the administrative front, successful completion of the NCAA Certification process; developing a first class compliance program; record fundraising success; and, completion of several important facility enhancements highlight our progress.
Here is the most recent round of Ask Ian questions.
Coach Morriss has made many comments about not having an on campus practice facility. Facilities are the name of the game in recruiting top athletes. How close are we to having enough money to break ground on starting on the facility, and when are we expecting an announcement?
College Station, Texas
Thank you for the question and I am pleased to provide you with an update on this project. We have asked a sports architect to update the plans and increase the scope of the project to include an academic center and administrative offices. The Baylor Athletics Center will integrate the football program and athletics department into the campus community, and provide a state-of-the-art academic center for student-athletes. We are expecting to receive final pricing and development materials from the architect in late July or early August. This is an absolutely critical project and our highest athletics development priority as it significantly impacts football, and student-athlete academic performance and personal development.
Once the pricing of this project is established, we will focus on raising the additional funds necessary to complete this project at the earliest possible date.
As an aside, there is a great deal of excitement about the football program's recruiting success. Congratulations are in order for Coach Morriss and his staff!
Congratulations on the continued progress that we have seen in all areas of Baylor athletics. I also wish to complement the improvement in the football schedule this season over last year with one exception. Since Baylor played SMU in Dallas last season, why are they not playing Baylor in Waco this season for our second home game rather than scheduling a Division I-AA school?
Thank you and continued success!!
Gregory A. Shumpert
Thank you for the scheduling questions. The SMU game played in Dallas last year was a return game from the 2003 contest played in Waco. We do have a future series with SMU planned, but not yet under contract.
We do plan on playing an I-AA opponent most years as that is important in securing bowl eligibility. We are also seeking games versus former Southwest Conference rivals when they fit into our schedules.
Regarding starting times, we have found based upon a study of starting times and attendance that we are best served with 6:00 p.m. kickoffs. Obviously, television has the ability to change start times and I hope that we will have even more television appearances in the future (that is a sign of a winning program!).
I have been considering a satellite radio service, mainly so I can get the Baylor Football games. I'd appreciate knowing any intentions Baylor has regarding this.
Our staff working alongside ISP Sports is very close to securing a satellite radio relationship for the upcoming year. If you can hold on for a couple of more weeks, we should be in a position to make an announcement about which carrier will partner with Baylor. This process has taken much longer than we expected.
I have been wondering if there are any rule changes for this year in football?
Thank you for your accessibility to the fans.
The most significant football rule change this year will relate to instant replay. Coaches will be afforded one challenge per game when they are able to call for a play to be reviewed. At the time of the challenge, the coach must have at least one timeout remaining, and if the call is overturned, the contesting team will retain the timeout.
First, I congratulate you for the solid improvement to BU Athletics during your stint as our AD. You were dealt a thin hand, and your coaches and athletes are performing heroically and with class.
We have an Athletic Hall of Fame (or Hall of Honor) do we not?
Would it be possible to have a page on the BU Athletics website listing these men and women, their years of eligibility and honors?
P.S. I hope you will make a run across the Red River someday and talk to us Bears up in Sooner Country!
Courage, Peace and Grace,
Class of 1978
Thank you for the kind words. Our staff and student-athletes are doing great work.
There is a page on BaylorBears.com under B Association that lists Baylor's Hall of Fame members, sport, participation dates and year of induction. You are absolutely correct that we want to honor and celebrate the success of our outstanding student-athletes. I know that the media relations staff is working to enhance the Hall of Fame section on our web site, so look for an enhanced area sometime in the coming months.
We will be selecting the Hall of Fame Class of 2006 in September, and the induction ceremony will be held on October 27.
Thanks for providing some information regarding the colors of the Baylor uniforms. However, you failed to provide an answer regarding the use of black uniforms, and inconsistent shades of green.
I'm looking forward to next season for all sports and especially men's basketball. GO BEARS!
James H. Laird
I am looking forward as anxiously as you toward the 2006-07 athletics season.
Regarding the use of uniform colors and consistency, the institution intends to retain a branding consultant to study this issue among many other logo and marketing issues university-wide. With that, this process will lead us to answer these questions and develop a strategy for branding Baylor and its athletics program in the best manner possible in the future.