With the holiday season upon us and 2007 just on the horizon, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year in Washington State University Athletics.
Among the highlights from 2006 were the historic fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships by the rowing team and the recognition of Washington State University and its P.R.O.W.L. (Providing Responsible Options With Life Skills) student-athlete personal development program with a national award.
Rowing’s fourth place national finish was the best in the history of the program and was the highest placing by any women’s team in the history of WSU Athletics. In addition, the team finished second at the Pac-10 Championships, also the best in school history, and the varsity eight crew ended the season ranked No. 3 in the country.
In September, we were honored to be recognized as a Program of Excellence by the Division I-A Athletic Directors' Association. This prestigious award is a reflection of the hard work of our staff in all aspects of the development of our student-athletes. Only three schools were recognized with this award: WSU, Miami of Ohio, and Virginia Tech. Since the program was established in 1997-98, only 39 schools have received this honor.
The hard work from our student-athletes was demonstrated by our near record 111 selections to conference all-academic teams in 2005-06, just two shy of the standard we set the previous academic year.
As the calendar turned to the fall, I know all of you were looking forward to what the football season had in store for us. The season began positively, with the team winning six of its first nine games. This stretch was highlighted by a win over No. 16 Oregon, marking the first win at home by an unranked WSU team against a ranked visitor in 10 years.
With our start, I realize the season certainly did not end the way anyone expected, and I know the Cougar Faithful were extremely disappointed with this; however, as quickly as we can, the WSU Nation must move forward with more determination than ever.
It is time to assist our coaches in getting high quality players to make the decision of coming to WSU. The biggest disadvantage our coaches have in the recruiting battle is facilities. A primary element on whether an 18-year-old decides to attend one university over another is the school’s facilities.
Our current facilities are not what top recruits or fans should expect of a Pac-10 institution; yet, we are asking our program to compete in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Our stadium, in its current state, places our football staff at a huge competitive disadvantage in comparison to our Bowl Championship Series (BCS) counterparts.
As you may be aware, we are starting the football stadium renovation with the help of each ticket purchase and the WSU student-body. These revenue sources will allow us to issue revenue bonds in the amount of approximately $22.5 million. This will cover the expense of Phases I and II of the stadium renovation.
Phases III and IV of the renovation will encompass the truly influential improvements to our stadium. These enhancements will impact recruiting and provide opportunities to increase operating revenue for the department. We will need the help of you and every Cougar as we put together the financing for Phases III and IV of the renovation.
For information on the renovation, please go to martinstadium.org. This website can also be accessed via our athletics’ official website at wsucougars.com.
Once we have completed the design of Phase III and have a better understanding of a construction timetable, a more “public” phase of fundraising will occur. At that time, the sale of premium seating will take place and detailed renderings of the stadium will be posted on the website.
Finally, on behalf of the entire Washington State Athletic Department, best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. Go Cougs!