Mike Alden reflects on the first several months of the 2008-09 season, and looks forward to the rest of the academic year.
Feb. 18, 2009
As we head into our mid winter portion of Athletics at Mizzou, it's interesting to step back and reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the year. The pace of our industry allows us little time to stop, look back, look ahead and listen; we many times wish we could have the opportunity to do so.
The 2008-09 academic year has seen tremendous academic success from our student-athletes. We have the top Academic Progress Rate of all public BCS institutions; our men and women are doing a great job in the classroom. Our "brand" has become synonymous with academic and athletic achievement.
Competitively, football has put together back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time ever, and a good win over Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl propelled the Tigers to a No. 16 final ranking. Soccer had a great year, finishing the season ranked in the top 10 in the country. Men's basketball has just risen into the top-10 of the Coaches' poll, Wrestling is currently ranked fifth, Gymnastics is currently ranked 13th, Softball is currently ranked 17th, Men's Swimming & Diving is ranked 24th, Men's Track & Field is 25th, and the Baseball team will begin its 118th season this weekend as the 10th-ranked team in the Baseball America poll.
All of these signs are quite positive for the growth of our athletic program academically, socially and competitively. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have worked hard to continue to build the "brand" of Tiger Athletics.
The financial challenges we face, though, are quite real. Sport has generally been seen as somewhat "recession-proof." Those times have changed. As we prepare for the future, those challenges force us to evaluate how we maintain such high quality academic, social and competitive results with a shrinking economy. We are seeing signs of this throughout all of professional and amateur sport, and Mizzou is not immune from those challenges. We are working to ensure our program continues to improve with the same expectations that we have for our entire University through sound fiscal management. The next 18-24 months will be challenging, but in the end, we'll be stronger as a University for attacking these issues in a proactive, professional manner.
Instead of managing and preparing for 3-5 year plans, the economic impact has actually made all of us look at 90- to 120-day plans and 1- to 2-year plans. This is unique. With the financial crisis changing daily, that's the only way to appropriately address the concerns: on a daily basis.
There will be tough times ahead for all of us, no doubt. Collectively, though, we'll see our team effort in addressing these issues into a strength.
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