Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - February 21, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 17 of 63

BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ ��� UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Facilities projects helping us catch up T he Badger Day outing in Naples, Fla., has been going strong for more than 30 years. Fran Hoffman got it started in the early ���80s. More recently, Danny Tzakis has been the organizer. I remember coming down here my first year with Pat Richter and Elroy Hirsch. It���s a good way to connect with a lot of our alums, and we always run into old friends. This event has always been more of a friend-raiser than a fundraiser. Tuesday, we drew a record crowd of well over 300 to the Grey Oaks Country Club. It was the first chance for a lot of people to meet and visit with Gary Andersen. I���ve always felt it was important to make our coaches available to our boosters. I really believe that���s one thing that separates us from other programs: the access that our fans have with head coaches like Gary and Bo Ryan. That extends to the Mendota Gridiron Club and Overtime Club. Our coaches meet once a week with these groups. There���s no one else in the country that is doing that. When I go through the interviewing process with coaches, I tell them that this type of access is part of the deal. Our people think it���s important. I think it���s important. Everybody handles the time commitment a little bit differently. 18 �� VARSITY FEB R UA RY 21, 2013 Gary said that he���d probably go back to work after the Wednesday night Mendota meetings. He was fine with it. I don���t think it���s asking too much for a coach to take an hour out of his time to visit with the people who support our program. Our coaches agree. At Tuesday���s outing, I updated everyone on all of our facilities and what���s going on in the athletic department. And then we opened it up for questions. There are some really exciting things happening. LaBahn Arena is open and operating and drawing great reviews from everyone, including some former Badger players who are now playing in the NHL. When you talk to them, they���ll tell you there���s no better facility anywhere. This season, our women���s hockey team will play their first-round WCHA playoff series at LaBahn, whereas in the past we had to farm out those games to a facility in Verona. We just opened up our indoor golf facility, which is very functional. It was also very much needed. It���s a great addition to our overall athletic program. As part of our SAPC project, our Student-Athlete Performance Center, we���re about a month away from opening up our weight room in the north end of Camp Randall Stadium. The locker room and training rooms are finished in the McClain Facility. So are the locker rooms for our cross country and track teams. We also have the footings poured for our academic center. We���re ahead of schedule on that. When everything is completed, we won���t have to take a back seat to anyone. It���s important to understand that we���re just trying to stay current. We���re not trying to outdo anybody. But if you don���t stay up, you���ll fall behind, especially in our league. A good friend put it all in context. When schools are putting up buildings on campus, they call it progress. When we do it in athletics, it���s an arms race. If you want to be in the game, you have to do it. Some of the costs for our new facilities were reflected in our budget. As an athletic director, you���re always concerned with the rising costs of running a program along with keeping Camp Randall and the Kohl Center filled. While you���re balancing your books, you want to be sensitive to not pricing out your fans. You want to make it affordable for everyone. One of the commitments that we���re making ��� and the Big Ten is emphasizing ��� is to improve the ingame, in-stadium experience. Our new video board in Camp Randall will be among the largest in the country. For now. The landscape is ever-changing in our business.

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