Walden calls a blitz

JIM WALDEN is tired of leafing through the annual donors list to WSU's athletic department and not seeing enough names of former athletes. "Hey, this school put you on the launch pad for the rest of your life -- it's time to give back on the great opportunity you had," Walden implores. "For some reason, former athletes think they're done when they leave campus. That's not the way it should be."

For four or five years, Walden notes, scholarship athletes have their tuition, room, board and books taken care of.

"We feed them, we provide academic support, we put them up in nice hotels on the road, we give them the best equipment. You take the whole package by the time each one of them leaves and I'll bet the university's investment is probably in the neighborhood of a quarter-million dollars. It's time to step up and give back."

AND WALDEN WANTS to make something else crystal clear -- he's looking directly at you, former Cougar women athletes.

"First I'm appealing to the former athletes that are hopefully in their mid-40s and 50s," said Walden. "Those that can, have to step up. And I'd like to see the women athletes who have been going through at a rapid rate, we've got 30 years of women's athletes, and I really believe it's time for them to step up.

"Get involved! Don't just turn this over onto the men. There are women lifting weights, and June Daugherty and all the other women's coaches need your help. When did anyone ever say women get to compete but they never have to get back? C'mon, let's do this together."

"I want to encourage ALL former athletes in ALL sports. This isn't just Jim Walden trying to give to the football team. Every person who has ever gone through athletics -- track guys, baseball guys, all the womens' basketball, soccer, field hockey, crew, the time to get involved and help all sports at WSU is now."

MAKE JIM PAY is about Walden putting his money where his mouth is -- Walden is already donating $100,000 to the WSU Student-Athlete Excellence Account. But for every $5 donated, Walden will donate an additional 1$.

So if $1 MIL total is given, Walden will donate an additional $100,000 on top of the first $100,000. The first project to be funded by this account is a renovation of the Cougar Mania Weight Room, a facility Walden points out is used by ALL Cougar student athletes in every sport the Athletic Department offers.

FACILITIES MATTER IN recruiting which in turn leads to winning, Walden says, and his voice jumps a couple octaves when he's saying it. Look at the Ducks in Eugene and how their success coincided with facilities upgrades. Look at Oklahoma State, than the Cougs' season opening opponent.

OSU went 18-18 from 2004-06, similar to the Cougs. But a huge influx of funds donated towards their facilities provided a big jump in the quality of recruits they've been able to attract. Indeed, OSU suddenly began going head to head with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M. And they've won a lot of those battles. And the wins have followed.

"You've got to improve your facilities. That's why I'm leading Make Jim Pay. Listen -- this is how we get good and stay good in athletics at Washington State. I can't say it strongly enough."

WHEN WALDEN was at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers as part of their official visit tour included a showing of the press box to recruits. But one weekend, Walden had three recruits spend extra time with an academic advisor and missed showing them the press box. The recruiting coordinator at the time, Tom Osborne, asked him why he didn't think it important to show recruits the press box.

"I said, 'Coach, let me ask you something. Getting the kid here academically is more important to me than what he's going to do in the press box, right? I'm not bringing him here so he can sit in the press box, am I?'

"That tale is just to illustrate what is so important -- what can we do for the athlete while he/she is here, and to get them here. And there is nothing more important in today's athletic world than the weight room facilities," said Walden.

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