It’s a great day to be a Lion!
I want to take this time to personally thank everyone who has helped with the transition with Lion Athletics thus far. It has been a pleasure getting to know many of you and seeing the support that exists for our institution. We are looking forward to the bright future that lays ahead for Lion Athletics!
I would especially like to thank all of the Lion nation faithful who attended and provided feedback during our town hall meetings. They were a tremendous success and benefit for our transformation process. We held a total of 11 meetings with various stakeholders and received approximately 500 responses, ideas, thoughts and concerns. As promised, we personally responded to each and every one of the public responses (those can be viewed at www.lionathletics.com). As hoped, we were able to learn many aspects of the athletics department, positive and negative.
On the positive front, first and foremost, we learned that we have great people within our department and institution. Secondly, we learned that there is a tremendous amount of passion and pride for all of Lion athletics and the institution. Thirdly, we learned that our location to the Metroplex and East Texas is a huge advantage and resource that not many of our peers possess. We must do a better job of taking advantage of this resource to restore our athletics department to national prominence.
Fourthly, we learned that many people feel as if the merger with the A&M System has provided us many benefits, opportunities, but most importantly, stability for the future of our campus.
Finally, we learned that many people, as do we, feel as if we have enormous growth potential. As discussed at the meetings, we have an incredible opportunity in front of us. We are confident that we have the people and resources to accomplish our task of bringing us back to national prominence.
Obviously, we are not perfect, and throughout the town hall meetings, people were candid enough to point out areas for improvement. First, we must win in football. Fair or not, this is the life of college athletics and people want to support a winning program. We must do our part to recruit quality coaches and student-athletes and invest in long term success and growth of the program.
Secondly, we must do a much better job of marketing and promoting our athletics department and programs. If people do not know the basic who, what, when, where of our events, then how can we expect them to attend?
Thirdly, reengaging with alumni and rebuilding bridges from past issues is a must and critical to our success. We must engage with our alums, old and new to have them be involved and revive the passion they once had for A&M-Commerce and Ol’ ET.
Fourthly, we must address our depleting facility issue. In particular, we must add an athletic academic enhancement center, renovate our weight room facility, and upgrade our sports medicine facility. In addition, aesthetic and cosmetic enhancements need to occur to all of our facilities until a permanent solution can be constructed.
Finally, but certainly not least, we must increase our funding, in particular our self-generated funds. In order to do this, we must increase season and game day ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, private fundraising, royalties on licensed merchandise and create alternative and creative ways for fans and organizations to be involved. One of the easiest ways to help in this area is to become a member of the newly formed Lions Athletic Club.
The Lions Athletic Club has several giving levels that provide you the opportunity to help enhance our programs through a variety of ways. For more information on how you can join the LAC, contact the athletic department development office at 903.468.8194.
The change has begun, but we certainly have a long way to go. I am confident that we can get to where we want to go, but it is going to take all of us. We need all of you to help in any way that you can, whether it’s donating money to the LAC, becoming a corporate sponsor, or just attending our games, we need you to be involved.
We have a great opportunity in front of us to make a difference in the lives of our student-athletes and this program, but we can’t do it without you. No matter where you are or where you are from, at the end of the day, “WE ARE LIONS”!
Ryan Ivey serves as the Athletic Director for Texas A&M University-Commerce.