On Monday afternoon, Mike Thomas broke down the three main points of the department's new CATAPULT program by focusing on the letters C-A-T. The "C" emphasizes Big East "championships." The goal for every athletic program is to win a Big East championship by the year 2011. The "A" involves an emphasis on "academics" where the Bearcat athletes are already outperforming the general student body with a 61% to 48 % graduation rate. The "T" means "together" and will incorporate a "Bearcat Caravan." The UC Athletics staff and student/athletes will go on the road later in June to get more involved in area events and showcase UC athletics. This plan also includes members of the athletic department taking a two day retreat later in the week.
Mr. Thomas admitted the goals of his plan were "lofty," but after meeting with several of his coaches, he said they were excited about these newly established objectives. Mr. Thomas didn't excuse himself from this undertaking and talked about the importance of his administration giving the athletic programs the resources necessary to reaching the desired outcomes.
The Bearcat Caravan will include administrators, coaches, and/or student athletes who will go to existing events in the surrounding areas and try to make others aware of what is going on at the University of Cincinnati. Mr. Thomas explained this part of their marketing strategy. "We want to make it basically that someone would have to be hiding in a cave not to know what's going on at UC in any of our sports."
The new Bearcat athletic director was asked about his marketing strategy at Akron, and he spoke about "scorching the earth" and a "land and air" attack in providing prospective fans with information about Akron football. He also credited Mike Waddell, Senior Associate Director of Athletics, with helping to increase Akron football attendance by 50% over a five year period. "Being fan friendly" was another welcome term used to describe this administration's attitude toward its supporters. Mr. Thomas also discussed the importance of having an attractive non-conference home schedule in attracting and keeping fans.
This new administration will be aggressive and tireless in attaining its goals. Mr. Thomas is in his office by 6 a.m. every morning, and both he and Mike Waddell seldom leave before 6 p.m. I honestly don't think UC athletics have ever been in better hands.