Sun Belt Bound!

Congratulations to the Idaho Athletic Department, to the University of Idaho, and thank you to the State Board of Education. Today the SBOE voted to admit Idaho to the Sun Belt Conference (SBC), clearing the way for the Vandals to maintain their 1-A football status.<br> <br>

Today is a day of celebration for all Vandal sports fans, alumni, and supporters. With a positive vote by the SBOE, Idaho gets the opportunity to continue growing our program at the 1-A level. We have the backing of the State, and are joining as full members the Sun Belt Conference in all sports!

Undoubtedly, enjoy the moment!! It seems like it has taken an eternity to get here. Athletic Director Mike Bohn, his staff, and all the donors and volunteers who stepped up to the plate to get this vote certainly deserve a hearty thank you from all of us Vandal fans. This was a big day for the UI.

When the celebration is over, however, we still have several important tasks at hand. Finishing this transition to 1-A in all sports falls squarely on the shoulders of all of us fans today...and the clock is ticking.

The current Idaho Athletic Department team has done everything they can to get us pointed in the right direction. They got us involved in the Sun Belt Conference 3 years ago when our options were few and far between (after the Big West dropped football). They've been instrumental in working with the SBC to formulate a Western Division for all sports which now includes Utah State, New Mexico State, and the University of Denver. They undertook a $13Million renovation of the East End of the Kibbie Dome; A project dubbed the Vandal Athletic Center (VAC) which will expand and modernize weight rooms, training rooms, classrooms, locker rooms, study halls, and coaches offices. The project will also create a long-overdue Vandal Hall of Fame.

They've initiated the Vandal Victory Plan which is aimed at healthy program growth between now and 2005. They've laid the groundwork to start a new Women's Swim Team so we conform with Title IX standards (a requirement of maintaining 1-A status) and compete with our peer institutions. In short, they've done their best to reshape our program to posture us for this day. It hasn't always been perfect, but they got us here.

Now its time for us, the Vandal community, to pick up the torch. And, we better have our running shoes on.

In the months ahead we at will do everything we can to line you up with things happening in the Idaho Athletic Department. What is obviously most needed now is growth in our booster and season ticket base. We also need to finish the VAC so that we can move ahead with the rest of the Vandal Victory Plan.

That's a call for all of us to step up to the challenge.

What can you do? First and foremost, go to the games and have fun. That's really the ultimate point of all of this...supporting the athletes who are representing our fine institution.

At the same time, think of ways that you can grow our Vandal Scholarship Fund (VSF) membership. In a nutshell, we need to double our VSF membership from 2500 members to 5000. If you think of it as just one person being responsible for getting 2500 new members, the task is staggering.

HOWEVER, if every single member got just 1 new member, the job would be done over night. THAT is what this is all about folks. Its too big a job for our staff to handle on their own. But its very attainable if we all pitch in.

Just one member. A sibling? A parent? A buddy from college? A friend looking for a tax write-off?

Just one.

Their are other important issues to address, including increasing the number of season ticket holders and VSF giving, which we will touch on throughout the summer. But increasing VSF membership is an important first step, and something we can all help with today.

If we do our part to focus on membership, then Mike Bohn, Pete Isakson, and the rest of the Department can focus their efforts on the big dollar donors and on the corporate sponsors needed to complete the VAC and our other facilities improvements. We need to work as a team, and not sit back and wait for a group which is already spread thin enough to do it for us. The time-line is too short, and the job too immense.

Are you up to the challenge?

Its OUR program.

WE need to grow it.

Get in the game...

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