From the AD's Desk

We stand on the threshold of something very special. On July 1, 2005 Marquette will officially join the Big East Conference. This will be a starting point, a threshold, for all of us. We have been at this place before in our history and did not move forward. You don?t get second chances very often, especially in college athletics. This is our second chance and we must move forward. We must continue to get better. All of us have a role to play:

- Student-Athletes
- Coaches
- Athletic Support Staff
- Administration
- Season ticket holders/donors
- Fans and friends

The new seat donation plan that has been sent out to all season ticket holders is a new part of a continuing process to maximize our potential to generate revenue in order to provide the resources necessary to compete at the highest level. The beginning of this process goes back to 1987-88 when Marquette, then an independent, laid out clear goals for its athletics program. i.e.

1) Bring Men?s Basketball back to a national level.
2) Develop a strong, competitive, broad-based athletic program.
3) Join a conference.
4) Develop a support system for student-athletes which would include Academic Support, Compliance, Marketing, Strength and Conditioning, Community involvement and an expanded sport medicine area.
5) Move Men?s Basketball games from the MECCA (11,000) to the Bradley Center (18,000) in order to maximize our potential to generate revenue to provide the resources needed to achieve the goals.

How did we get from there to here? It was a combination of several key factors:

1) We moved from independent to conference affiliation starting with the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1988-91), Great Midwest Conference (1991-95) and Conference USA (1995-2005). Every conference was a step up competitively and each time we collectively rose to meet the challenge.

2) We implemented initiatives to maximize our potential to increase revenue to provide the resources (scholarships, support, staffing) needed to step up to meet each challenge presented by a new conference. We began with the move to the Bradley Center (1988-89) which increased revenue through ticket sales; to the founding of the Blue & Gold Fund and implementation of the Point System which allowed athletics to raise funds for scholarships (1994-95); to the first reseating for Men?s Basketball (1996) which increased donations; to reseating for Men?s Basketball (2001) which further increased donations; to this new seat donation program (2005).

3) Season ticket holders/donors and fans stepped up to increase ticket sales, number of donors and levels of donations in order to provide the resources needed to support our student-athletes and coaches at higher levels of competition. Attendance, number of donors and levels of donations all increased.

4) We have been able to attract outstanding young men and women to attend Marquette, wear the Blue and Gold and most importantly graduate. Scholarship support continues to be critical to success. Our students have achieved at a high level both in conference and nationally while graduating as fast as or faster than the general student body and graduating at a rate as high as or higher than the general student body.

5) We have attracted very good coaches who bring professional and personal qualities and skills that have been essential to our success in the classroom and in the arena of competition.

6) We have attracted a skilled and talented support staff that has been able to provide the support system that has been key to the success of our student-athletes and coaches.

7) Administrative support may well be one of the most important factors because it all starts at the top. Father Raynor, Father DiUlio and Father Wild along with their respective administrations have been supportive of our efforts and student-athletes to get better. Marquette University has been fortunate for these three presidents as they were able to come at the right time to provide for the needs of the university and make it better. Father Wild, Senior Vice President Greg Kliebhan and Provost, Dr. Madeline Wake and their staff are providing tremendous leadership for all of us at the university as we move to the BIG EAST.

8) Marquette University is a special place. Its strength lies in its leadership, faculty, staff, students, alums and friends. Life is all about people and Marquette is a perfect example.

9) Milwaukee and Wisconsin ? We are in a great city in a great state that care about people and provide great support for sports at all levels.

What do we need to do to step through that threshold to take the next step and keep our momentum moving forward? Looking forward we must all clearly see the vision of where we are going and what we will need to be successful.

1) The BIG EAST is a very mature (26 years old), well organized, highly competitive conference enhanced by quality leadership from Commissioner Michael Tranghese and his staff.

2) BIG EAST teams compete for conference championship as a preparation to compete for a national championship. They have won multiple national championships in Men?s Basketball, Women?s Basketball, Men?s Soccer, Women?s Soccer and Cross Country.

3) One of the strengths of the BIG EAST is its people to include the conference office, institutional athletic staff and student-athletes, and university administration. They care about each other while competing intensively against each other.

4) We must utilize every opportunity to generate revenue to provide the resources necessary to compete successfully in the BIG EAST conference which in turn means nationally.

5) We must continue the great progress we have made through restructuring the athletic department in order to streamline revenue generating operations. In 2004, the position of Senior Associate Director of Athletics was established and is responsible for all revenue generation: Ticket Sales, Blue & Gold Fund, Merchandise and supervises Nelligan Sports Marketing, Inc., a newly hired consulting firm that is responsible for sponsorships, advertising, radio, television and licensing.

6) Within the mission of Marquette University, we must continue to strive for excellence in academics, athletics and in leadership through service to others.

7) We must continue to work together, each in our own role, as student athletes, coaches, athletic support staff, administrators, season ticket holders/donors, fans and friends to be the best that we can be. That is an expectation at Marquette University.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Blue & Gold Fund to the future of Marquette Athletics. The university recognized the need for athletics to raise money to support the scholarship program and thus the Blue & Gold Fund was organized with a points system in 1994. In the 10-year period from 1994 to 2004 the Blue & Gold Fund went from $400,000 in donations for scholarship support to 1.47 million dollars. The ability of athletics/Blue & Gold Fund, in coordination with University Advancement, to generate revenue enabling us to attract outstanding young men and women to Marquette through scholarship support is absolutely essential and critical to our future as we move to the BIG EAST.

Again, we have come many miles on this journey with miles yet to travel. We must stride forward boldly and with great confidence to the BIG EAST and the future.

Thank you!

Bill Cords
Director of Athletics


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