Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Christmas Wish List

With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, I thought it was time to put together my “wish list” for 2007 and beyond (I also reserve the right to add to the list!). They may or may not get done in the next calendar year, but since we’re building for the future, it can’t hurt to ask, can it? So, without further delay, here goes…

1. A football bowl berth in 2007.
I think waiting 23 years is long enough.

2. A new basketball practice facility.
Check. Should be done in October!

3. A pair of NCAA Basketball Tournament berths.
I know it may be asking a lot this soon, but the men and women are both off to great starts. With a little luck, I think we can do it.

4. Continued success for our men’s soccer program.
Check. I want to take this opportunity to thank Coach Hyndman for his continued commitment to our program. He was recently approached with a tremendous professional opportunity but elected to stay on the Hilltop. We’re thrilled to have him as our men’s soccer coach and I’m sure we’ll continue to compete for National Championships.

5. A new tennis stadium, a new natatorium and a golf practice facility.
O.K., some of these may take more than a year, but we do have some very exciting plans for facility upgrades on the horizon.

6. Renovation of Moody Coliseum.
Check. We’ll be dedicating our new video scoreboard on January 10 and we’ll continue our improvements over the summer. You’ll love it.

7. More “blue chip” recruits coming to the Hilltop.
I continue to be impressed with the quality student-athletes our coaches attract to the Hilltop (Look at Coach Doherty’s top-25 class) and know that we will continue to increase the talent base in the Mustang “stables.”

8. New athletic offices in the Loyd Center.
Check. Our athletic administrative offices (AD, Mustang Club, Media Relations & Marketing) will move to the Loyd All-Sports Center in early 2007. The offices are going to look spectacular. It’ll be representative of a top-25 program.

And finally…

9. Your support of SMU Athletics.
Our department, our teams and our student-athletes depend on you, our fans, to help us reach our goals. You can provide us with our home-court advantage and increased resources. You can help us grow our fan base. Bring a friend to a game in 2007. SMU tickets are a great stocking stuffer, you know (Get your last-minute gift here). Students – come out and cheer on your fellow classmates. You are a huge part of the college gameday experience. To all - join the Mustang Club or increase your donation. Every little bit helps (For more information, click here).

On a sad note, I’m sure that everyone knows by now of the passing of Lamar Hunt. Lamar earned his degree and played football here at SMU and was longtime supporter of the school. I could write and write about all that he did, all those he impacted and the things he influenced, but, simply put, he was a great person and a true friend of Mustang athletics. He will be missed.

As we wrap up the year, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It has been a great year for the Orsini family and for me, personally, as we’ve been so warmly welcomed into the Mustang family. I look forward to leading SMU Athletics to its full top-25 potential next year and beyond and hope to see all of you at Moody very soon.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Building For Success

I know we talked about it last week, but I just can’t say enough about the great seasons our basketball teams are having.

Our men's team is 6-1 and ranked No. 9 in the nation in the RPI. The RPI is a formula that is one of the principal tools used by the NCAA selection committee uses to determine the field for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships. I won’t bore you with how it’s computed, but if you really want to know, click here. We’ll be back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. when Prairie View visits Moody.

Our women improved to 6-2 with a 70-53 victory over North Texas on Saturday night. We had four players in double figures and showed a lot of balance on offense. The women will head to Fayetteville for a big game against the 9-1 Arkansas Lady Razorbacks on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. You can listen to the game on 1630 AM or online through

In addition to their on-court successes, we’ve now “got a shovel in the ground” on our new Crum Basketball Center. We officially broke ground on the Center on Friday and plan to have it finished for our first practice in mid-October 2007. It’s truly a top-25 facility. It’s 43,000 square feet and will include two full-size practice courts, players' locker rooms and lounges, fully-equipped training and strength & conditioning rooms, coaches' offices and film editing rooms. We’ll even use it during home games, as an underground tunnel will link the Center to Moody Coliseum.

And back on the gridiron, I want to congratulate Justin Willis, who was named a third-team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News last week. Justin had previously been named Conference USA's Freshman of the Year by both the media and C-USA coaches and is just another example of the top-notch student-athletes we have coming back in 2007. I’m sure we’ll be adding to the stable with National Signing Day just around the corner.

Finally, you may have seen that I added Kris Lowe and Craig Shaver to our staff recently. Kris will be our Assistant A.D. for Business & Finance, while Craig will serve as Associate A.D. for Athletics Development. Kris was a four-year basketball letterwinner and team captain for our basketball team and returns to SMU after almost three years at Ernst & Young as an accountant (Hmmm… a former student-athlete who worked as an accountant and returns to athletic administration… Seems like I’ve seen that somewhere before…). I thought about posting a photo of Kris from his days as an SMU student-athlete like I did for Richard Sweet, but Kris looks the same as the day he graduated in 2004!

Craig comes to us from Baylor, where he was the Athletic Department's Director of Development. His background in athletics and corporate development and athletics administration will serve us well as we raise the funds necessary to make needed capital improvements to our athletics facilities and support the annual operations of the department. I’m also excited about the partnership with University Development that helped bring Craig aboard. While the University has always supported our efforts, the new structure should produce a "1+1=3" result, as I like to say. Craig and the Mustang Club will be overseen by Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Mark Petersen with a heavy “dotted line” to me.

Until next time, check out for all the latest on our teams and I’ll see you at Moody.

Go Mustangs!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hoops Time On The Hilltop

It’s hoops time on the Hilltop and our men’s and women’s teams are off to great starts. We celebrated Moody’s 50th anniversary on Sunday with a pair of wins and our teams are now a combined 11-3. Not too shabby!

Our men’s team sits at 6-1, with our only loss being a close one on the road to a Florida State team that beat reigning national champion Florida this weekend. The team will take a break for finals for a few days and will be back at Moody on Wednesday, Dec. 13. On the women’s side, we’re 5-2 and will host North Texas on Saturday at 7 p.m. Congratulations are due junior Janielle Dodds as she became just the 15th women's basketball player to eclipse the 1,000-career point mark at SMU.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to invite everyone to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Crum Basketball Center this Friday, Dec. 8, at 11:45 a.m. The ceremony will take place on the east end of Moody Coliseum. This project has been made possible by the visionary support of Sylvie P. and Gary T. Crum and many other generous donors and I’d love for you all to be here if possible. You can find out more about the Center (and how you can help make possible this essential top-25 facility) by clicking here.

Until next time, GO MUSTANGS!