Expect to win!
That's usually the close to this column, but this month it's the beginning. We are less than a month away from the beginning of the 2003-04 academic and sports year, with the fall sports of football, golf, and cross-country on the horizon. I hope you will be able to follow our teams closely, either in person, through utsports.com or in the pages of Volunteers Magazine. We have great student-athletes and teams to showcase and much to be proud of. I am proud we have more SEC titles overall than any other SEC school.
Let's take a look at the second of the five core values that surround the underlying principle of the student-athlete being at the center of everything we do.
Core Value #2: We will compete for SEC and national championships.
We're looking for excellence in everything we do, on and off the field. Complacency is unacceptable. Tennessee has a great tradition of being a leader in the highly competitive world of intercollegiate athletics and we expect no less. I think it is a two-phased process.
First, we must provide the vision for competing for championships, ensuring that our coaches and staff know what our goals are from a competitive standpoint.
Your presence in the stadiums and arenas and emotional support creates a home advantage atmosphere that is a huge factor in attracting great student-athletes. The Vol Nation's legendary treks to opposing stadiums, bowls and postseason events strengthen our teams. And, as ticket purchasers and donors, your financial support without questions is an essential (and much appreciated) factor in giving our student-athletes and coaches the means to compete.
Secondly, we must be the No. 1 supporters of that effort, providing the resources our coaches and student-athletes need to accomplish those goals.
We are working hard to provide our coaches and student-athletes with the best facilities possible. STEP UP- The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities is less than $2 million from its overall goal of $44.25 million. In recent weeks, many more VASF members have stepped up to make commitments to the campaign, and I am grateful for your willingness to share in this effort.
As part of STEP UP, the McKenzie Center and the expansion of the Bob White Indoor Field is underway, with projects for swimming, golf, soccer and softball, among others, in various stages of the construction planning process. As you may have read, we are beginning an assessment of possible changes and enhancements for Thompson-Boling Arena in terms of possibilities of hospitality areas, luxury suites, facade changes and a variety of issues to be addressed to make sure that we are keeping that facility as one of best in the country. We are also in preliminary discussion about improvements for baseball. Lindsey Nelson Stadium is now 10 years old, and has fallen behind most of our competitors in the Southeastern Conference.
Winning, Vince Lombardi once said, is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. It takes a commitment on behalf of all of us to ensure that we remain competitive, on the field and in the classroom. We want to see Academic All-America selections as well as All-America selections on the playing field. We want to see championships on the field as well as exceptional graduation rates in all sports. That's the goal.
We've made a commitment on behalf of each of you who support Tennessee Athletics to have the best program possible. We appreciate the trust you have placed in our staff, coaches and student-athletes in this quest.
The annual journey of competition and excitement begins in a few short weeks. We look forward to each of you being a part of it.
Repeat: Expect to win!