Marquette Mailbag is a weekly feature in the GoMarquette.com Social Summer Series
Director of Athletics Larry Williams was our guest for the latest edition of "Marquette Mailbag," answering your questions on his first year on the job, new lacrosse programs, the Carrier Classic and more...
- Colin, Chicago, IL
A: I don't know if it's my greatest challenge, but one that has been is trying to not eat lunch every day at Real Chili or Sobelman's. Willpower is the only thing preventing me from returning to my playing weight. Of course I am kidding, but there are significant challenges inherent in providing high-level D1 sports opportunities out of the Old Gym. Marquette Athletics is absolutely capable of being the gold standard D1 athletic program without football- one that competes regularly for national championships in basketball and among the elite in all the varsity sports we offer. Finding a quality home like the Al for our non-basketball and volleyball programs will be a key challenge.
Q: In the wake of the Penn State scandal, how does a school administration maintain a balance between an ethical commitment to the public and the desire for a successful athletic program?
- Loren Farr, Milwaukee
A: What happened at Penn State shook the foundation of college athletics, and rightfully so. The hope is that all schools can collectively emerge from those tragic events with greater perspective and clearer purpose. Marquette is a values-based institution. We know that every aspect of this institution must be operated with the utmost integrity. That is especially true in my department, where we must maintain the proper balance between academics and athletics. That starts at the top and is essential to ensure institutional control. Our president, Father Pilarz, is someone I very much respect and admire. His vision and connection with our students is truly remarkable. He and I agree that our common goal is driving our athletic program forward in a positive way.
Q: Hey Mr. Williams! We all hope it has been a smooth transition for you to Marquette and for you to be feeling right at home in our community. Speaking of transitions, with what seems to be a successful addition of D1 men's and women's lacrosse, do you see Marquette adding any other D1 sports in the future?
- Marcus, Hartford, WI
A: Thanks Marcus for the kind words. I love Milwaukee and live with my family in the downtown area. As for lacrosse, you may know it's the fastest growing sport on the NCAA level over the past decade and it will be very exciting to see the Blue and Gold compete for the first time. It's such a fast-paced dynamic game and I think our great fans will respond, especially with us having the opportunity to compete in the BIG EAST against programs with rich histories in the sport. Aside from the impact on the field, the addition of new athletic programs also positively impacts our enrollment and development efforts. I will constantly be evaluating where we are from an athletic standpoint and be progressive in our approach when it comes to assessing any potential expansion of our programs. Our overriding goal is to field nationally competitive programs across the board without diluting that Marquette standard of excellence.
Q: Will MU be playing any BIG EAST teams this year in lacrosse? If so, can you say which schools at this time? Finally, when will the schedule be announced? Thank you.
- Tim, Cape Cod, MA
A: What an exciting opportunity it is that we get to play BIG EAST lacrosse. The schedules for next spring won't be finalized until later this fall, but we know the women will play a full BIG EAST slate and the men will play a good number of BIG EAST teams plus they will host a nationally recognized program at Valley Fields.
Q: What's your relationship like with men's basketball coach Buzz Williams?
- James Anderson, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A: Coach Williams is a good man and a great coach. We've spent some time together this summer and have gotten to know each other more, especially when tracking down a few hooks and slices into the woods when we played golf together a few weeks back. What's clear to me is that he's a competitor and a winner. We share a lot in common and are completely on the same page in terms of staying focused on the rich history and core values that underpin this very unique program - among the elite in the nation. It promises to be another championship caliber season with the bar always set at the national championship aspiration level.
Q: What is the best way to obtain tickets to the carrier classic? My father is a 23 year army veteran and I would love to take him for Veterans Day.
- Cody Moreland, Kenosha, WI
A: If you are in the Cabinet of the President of the United States of America, I would guess you have a pretty good shot at getting tickets to the Carrier Classic. Tickets to this event are extremely limited. I believe the ship will hold about 4,000 fans, and Marquette will be allocated a small number of those - like the post season, but fewer. I also believe that the organizer will make a small number of tickets available to local military families and may make some available for public sale. Continue to check our website for the latest information. And most importantly, please thank your father from all of us in Marquette Athletics for his lifetime of service protecting our great country!
Q: What is your viewpoint on coach hero worship that seems to dominate some college fans and programs? We saw what happened at Penn State when administrators and fans looked away at what was happening with a revered coach. As an AD, how do you protect the institution when a coach can become so popular to some that he is given free reign to do what they want, even if that isn't in the best interest of the institution?
- Jim, Pacific
A: I can't imagine that there is anyone in the country who isn't deeply saddened by the Penn State situation, first and foremost for the victims of this terrible crime, and secondly for everyone associated with the program, PSU, and in fact, all of college athletics. This is the clearest and most cautionary tale of why it is so important to maintain integrity above all else.
Q: Do you agree with Al McGuire when he said: "A Notre Dame grad will pick his nose to make sure you see his class ring"?
- Greg, Denver, CO
A: What a great quote! I've never heard that before. You have to love Coach McGuire, and you can just hear his New York accent when he said that. You obviously know I'm a Notre Dame grad. I loved my time there and am proud I went to school there. But I'm Marquette's A.D. now. I have learned about the legacy and many traditions of Marquette and have the utmost respect for not just the athletic program, but the entire institution. One of my sons even attends graduate school here. So there should be no doubt about my commitment and loyalty to Marquette. I'll be right there cheering for Marquette when we kick Notre Dame's butt this fall on the court. And for the record - I always try to use a handkerchief.