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From Jim's Desk...Spring is winding down

UT Arlington AD Jim Baker.
 
UT Arlington AD Jim Baker.
 

April 21, 2014

From Jim's Desk,

We're hitting the home stretch this spring with plenty to play and cheer for across the board for your Mavericks. Join us as we finish out the 2013-14 season with a championship bang.

We just finished quite a baseball and softball weekend here on campus. Congratulations to Coach Kristie Fox and the softball team on winning their first Sun Belt series. Baseball knocked off No. 2 Louisiana on Easter Sunday to cap a very competitive series. Thanks to everyone who came out to Allan Saxe Field and Clay Gould Ballpark this weekend, including our alumni, parents, Roy Wilson and his family, and our Arlington neighbors.

Baseball and softball are ramping up for the Sun Belt Conference tournaments next month. The baseball championships are in Mobile, Alabama (May 21-25), with softball heading to Lafayette, Louisiana (May 7-10). We'll send out ticket information closer to those dates. In the meantime, get out to Clay Gould Ballpark and Allan Saxe Field as we finish up the regular season. All softball games are free, and tickets for baseball are $3 for students and $5 for the general public.

As soon as the baseball and softball seasons end, construction begins on clubhouse complexes for both programs. We're in the midst of a fundraising effort for the entire project that provides our student-athletes and coaches the tools they need to be successful and compete with their peers. Frankly, we need your help. Please contact Craig Shaver at shaver@uta.edu or 817-272-9608 for more information.

The Sun Belt Men's Golf Championship began today outside of Biloxi, Mississippi. While it's been a challenging season for Jay Rees and the boys, they are peaking at the right time. You can follow the three-day tournament from Grand Bear Golf Course here.

The men's and women's tennis teams both concluded their seasons in the Sun Belt Championship semifinals over the weekend. The teams combined to place six student-athletes on the All-Sun Belt team: sophomore Carlos Arbiza, senior Javier Perez, freshman Daniel Armengol, sophomore Austin Robles, sophomore Elizabeth Thoms and freshman Angeles de los Rios. Congrats to Coach Diego Benitez on another fine season.

The UT Arlington men's and women's track teams continued their impressive seasons this past weekend at the Michael Johnson Dr Pepper Classic in Waco. Your Mavericks picked up multiple event wins and established new top-5 school times. Up next are the Drake Relays and the Bobcat Classic.

As many of you have read, NCAA issues involving student-athletes have dominated headlines recently. Just up the street, one prominent men's basketball player said after the Final Four that he sometimes goes to bed hungry.

The NCAA legislative council approved a rule that allows schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to student-athletes. We support anything that benefits the well-being of student-athletes here at UT Arlington. While there may be challenges associated with this rule, we will make it work for our student-athletes at UT Arlington.

Another huge topic is the decision granting Northwestern football players the right to form college sports' first labor union. While this can dramatically change the course of college athletics, we must let this run its course through the courts.

I will say we want our student-athletes focused on what matters most – finding success in the classroom, on the playing field and in life. We understand the passion and emotion associated with college sports and also recognize the current system isn't perfect and needs to be improved, but treating student-athletes as employees isn't the solution.

Please join me in welcoming Russell Warren, our new senior associate athletic director for marketing and tickets, to campus. Russell brings a wealth of experience and expertise to UT Arlington, as well as a track record of success at both the collegiate and professional level. If you see Russell at any of our games, and you will, don't hesitate to say hi. And if you've got an idea or two about our game experience or ticketing or anything else, feel free to share.

And finally, I want to acknowledge the success of our student-athletes in the classroom. Earlier this month we honored 50 of them as Super Scholar Athletes and Scholar Athletes. That's why we're here. We're here for them.

Buck 'em,
Jim

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