Billups Steps Up (Free Content)

Attendence has lagged at CU men's basketball games this season. But the program received "a shot in the arm" Thursday when former Buff Chauncey Billups gave $100,000 toward tickets for schoolchildren. The Chauncey's Kids Roundup begins this season. Also inside, news and notes on basketball, football and academics.

"I'm very, very excited for this opportunity to give these kids from my neighborhood and from other neighborhoods the opportunity to see some great college athletics," Chauncey Billups said via a teleconference Thursday afternoon. "I wish I could be there more, but me having them there will make me feel a lot better."

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, along with the former CU standout, announced The Chauncey's Kids Roundup Thursday.

Billups' commitment is for $100,000 over four seasons, which will go to game tickets for children. It's a similar program to the Ralphie's Kids Roundup, in which donors gave money for 1,000 season tickets for football games last year. Bohn said Chauncey's program will start this season. He expected as many as 10,000 tickets per season to be given to schoolchildren through the program over the next four years.

In addition, the Coors Events Center, drab by many people's standards, will get a splash of color. A large graphic featuring Billups from his playing days at Colorado and Ralphie the Buffalo will adorn a wall inside the arena. The graphic will be 65-feet wide x 25-feet high and could be unveiled as soon as Feb. 11 when Texas Tech comes to town.

"My relationships with Coach Patton is so strong. I just wanted to be around there and help him out," Billups said. "I remember before I left, we had that program really rockin'. It was loud in there. We had a lot of kids in the building. When you've got kids in there, it makes it extra loud."

Billups, who left Colorado in good academic standing after his sophomore year and was taken No. 3 overall in the 1997 NBA Draft, also said on Thursday he intends to finish the two years of classwork he has remaining in order to get his degree. He said he will finish his degree mostly through correspondence courses. However, he said he may need to take some summer courses if his basketball schedule ever allows that.

"My summers have been so short lately," Billups said, referring to his playing with the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals the past two seasons. "Hopefully, they continue to be short, but…"

Billups found a home with his sixth NBA team, the Pistons, and helped lead them to an NBA Championship in 2004. Billups was named the NBA Finals MVP that year.

"This university is very fortunate to have someone like Chauncey Billups step up and be involved," Bohn said. "It's a huge shot in the arm in many, many ways for us."

• Billups said he watched CU's recent games vs. Texas and Missouri on television. "They've got some athletes. They've got some great guard play. I like the young kid, Richard Roby. He's having a good season." Billups plays with some of the CU players during the offseason. He said it's hard to compare this team to the one he played on as a sophomore in 1996-97 because Billups' team had great leadership in the locker room, and he's not privy to the current team's locker room.

• Billups left school after his sophomore season. Asked what advice he'd give Roby if Roby were to seek it about leaving school early for the NBA, Billups said, "I really could only speak for my experience. My experience was a little unique. My first year was the last year of the Big Eight. We went from last in the Big Eight to second in the Big 12 (Billups' sophomore season) in one year. I was as hot as I probably would've ever been. His situation isn't really mine. I don't know if they're going to finish second in the Big 12. I don't know if he has the same name that I had when I was in school. It would be tough. But I could only tell him about my experience and the reasons why I made the decision. He's got to take what he's going through in his situation and make his decision."

• Bohn said he has no timetable for dealing a possible contract extension for Ricardo Patton. Patton's current deal ends after the 2006-07 season. Much like he said during this past football season about Gary Barnett's possible extension, Bohn said the emphasis now needs to be on the team, and on improving marketing efforts and overall energy and emotion surrounding the team. The Buffs have six home games left.

• CU has struck a deal with Air Force. The Falcons and Buffs will begin an ongoing series between the two schools in men's basketball beginning next season. It's likely that the Colorado Classic will continue at Denver's Pepsi Center, as well, featuring the Buffs and at least one other front range school. Bohn said he's working to "regionalize" CU's much-criticized home men's basketball schedule in the coming years.

• Three former CU men's basketball greats — Robert Jeangerard (No. 20), Jim Davis (No. 4) and Scott Wedman (No. 4) will have their jerseys honored at the Feb. 11 Texas Tech game.

In Colorado Football
On Thursday, the athletic department formally announced the assistant football coaches hired by Dan Hawkins. No surprises, they are as follows: Ron Collins (defensive coordinator)
Mark Helfrich (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
Darian Hagan (running backs)
Kent Riddle (special teams/tight ends)
Chris Strausser (offensive line)
Eric Kiesau (wide receivers)
Romeo Bandison (defensive line)
Brian Cabral (linebackers)
Greg Brown (secondary)

• A draft of Dan Hawkins' contract is still being drawn up by CU counsel. Tom McGrath said he expects the draft to be done and ready for Hawkins and his reps to look at within 48 hours. Basically, they are tweaking and streamlining some of the language of the deal, which in principal hasn't changed from the deal announced at his hiring press conference. Likewise, CU is still working on CU women's basketball coach Kathy McConnell-Miller's deal. McGrath said he expects both to be done and signed within 30 days. Mike Bohn is still operating without a finalized contract. Bohn said it would be inappropriate for him to comment about that.

• Bohn and CSU AD Mark Driscoll continue to have talks about the future of the CU-CSU football series. It still appears the game will move back to Invesco, and Bohn said the two sides hope to have details worked out by Valentine's Day. Colorado's commitment to have at least six home games played at Folsom each fall remains unchanged.

• Colorado will play a home-and-home series with Minnesota in 2012 and 2013. There's a tentative agreement for such a series with Air Force in 2008 and possibly 2012. Wyoming will visit in 2009. Florida State has agreed to move its 2007 date at Folsom from Sept. 22 to Sept. 15. CU requested the change so the Buffs wouldn't have to play FSU and Oklahoma (Sept. 29) on back-to-back Saturdays. Colorado is seeking an opponent to fill the Sept. 22 date.

• The Buff Club Cabinet membership has grown to 38 members. BC Cabinet members donate $25,000 per year over a three-year period.

• In academic news, seven teams posted at least a 3.0 GPA for the previous semester, and 11 of the 17 teams were at 2.9 or better. Also, 133 out of roughly 310 student-athletes made a 3.0 GPA or better. Five had perfect 4.0, including Ryan Anderson (men's golf), Eric Hienonen, Daniel Kenney (cross country) and Lucie Zikova (skiing).

Talk about this on the Ralphie's Den MESSAGE BOARD.


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