Dannen Speaks

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Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:46 pm

A message from Dannen:

Green Wave Nation:

As the calendar year ends and we prepare to spend treasured time with family and friends, all of us in Tulane Athletics send our wishes for a great holiday season. We are thankful and appreciative of everything you have done to support the Green Wave in 2017, and we look forward to an even better 2018.

The Year in Review

During the past year Tulane student-athletes earned eight All-America nods and two American Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Year honors. Emmanuel Rotich won the AAC Cross Country title this fall and also won his NCAA Regional. We welcomed two new coaches in Maru Brito for women’s tennis and Charles Higgins in sailing. Four teams competed in postseason play and baseball player Hunter Williams, now a student in the Tulane Medical School, was named an Academic All-American.

Over 62 percent of our student-athletes have a 3.0 GPA or better. Our departmental graduation success rate is 93.8%, and this spring, we will officially announce perfect APRs in seven sports, and an overall departmental APR of 982. These numbers are aspirational for most FBS athletic departments, and even more remarkable given the academic rigor of a top 40 institution like Tulane. Our student-athletes are achieving success on and off the athletic field.

The Olive and Blue Society was unveiled in 2017 with over $2.6 million in commitments already made, as we continue to build a financial model that supports success in all endeavors and allows investment in our areas of strength while shoring up our areas of weakness. Beyond Olive and Blue, in 2017 alone, commitments to endow our newest sport, sailing, are approaching $5 million. Tulane donors continue to step up to the plate to help the Green Wave achieve our vision of setting a standard in the AAC that others will aspire to achieve.

Football continues climbing the ladder to success. While winning five games for only the second time in 14 years is progress, we haven’t reached our goal by any stretch of the imagination. The last play of the last game of the season, however, is symbolic of how close we are to crossing that boundary, elevating Tulane football to the level which we aspire.

The response we’ve had after that game at SMU leads me to believe it will be a seminal moment in our program’s history. Nothing has unified our fan base in the way the end of that game unified the Green Wave Nation. While we may be uniting against the call on the field, or the replay decision, the fact is we have seen and heard from fans who are season ticket holders, alums previously disengaged living far away, and everyone in between who have united in their support of our student-athletes and coaching staff, and understand we are better positioned today for success than we have been in many years.

Sneak Peek at 2018

The year ahead brings great anticipation. Men’s basketball has already won more games before December 15 than it won the entire 2016-17 season and continues to get better. The team has experienced a dramatic RPI improvement from 293 last year to 96 at this point in 2017. Women’s basketball has one of the greatest players in school history in Kolby Morgan who is third all-time in scoring with most of her senior season ahead. Both men’s and women’s track and field return All-Americans. Men’s tennis will be ranked in the top 20 and returns Constantin Schmitz, an All-American and the 2017 AAC Player-of-the-Year. Swimming and Diving is 4-3 this year after an 0-6 finish a year ago and will compete for a conference championship in February. Volleyball brings in one of the top 20 recruiting classes in the nation this fall, and combined with four true freshmen in the 2017 lineup, will contend for an NCAA spot next fall.

Maru Brito led women’s tennis to a great fall season in her first year and has high expectations for 2018. Baseball has a new look roster with 23 of 35 players new to the program, including eight junior college transfers. While the names will be new, expectations for the program include postseason play once again. Bowling is currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and Beach Volleyball will be among the top 10-15 teams in the nation as well. Women’s golf has a young roster, but already has a tournament championship under its belt. The winter and spring 2018 promise to continue the elevation of Tulane athletics on the field!

Beyond that, we hope to announce a site for construction of a new tennis competition facility, locker rooms and office complex later this spring, with construction to follow shortly thereafter. We continue design work on a performance center. New site plans call for the facility to be built in the east side of the parking lot just north of the baseball stadium, with integration into the stadium.

Student-Athlete Development

A Tulane degree puts our student-athletes on a path to success for the next 40 years of their career, but there is a potential for even more. We have plans to realize our full potential when it comes to the student experience. Athlete Essentials 101 is a summer course for all incoming freshmen to help them successfully transition academically. This summer, in addition to 101, we add Athlete Essentials 201 for rising sophomores to emphasize leadership development, and that will be followed by Athlete Essentials 301 in the summer of 2019 for rising juniors to assist in their internship opportunities. By the time Athlete Essentials 401, which will focus on career development, debuts in 2020, every student-athlete will have taken four of these athletics-department-run essentials courses (without credit) that will help position them for success throughout their lives.

The Team in Place

Athletics Department staff members are enablers by nature. Our job is to enable the success of others. Our job is to recruit the best student-athletes and put them in a position to succeed. I’m proud of our staff. While many are new, and most are new to New Orleans, all have developed a sense of ownership in the university and in the outcomes of our student-athletes.

That is one of the goals we have for our fans, friends and alumni. We want to ensure you are always proud of your University and its student-athletes. A sense of pride and ownership in all things Tulane is a primary objective of our athletics programs. As our academic and social achievements continue to expand into competitive and fiscal successes, we will see the full potential athletics has to offer. From student engagement to community engagement to alumni engagement, athletics truly is the front porch of the University.

The Ask

My ask of you remains engagement. Get engaged. Engage others. If you are engaged, deepen that engagement. Engagement comes in many forms: time, talent, treasure, passion, caring… Since the day I was hired, people have lined up to tell me why they weren’t engaged. That has always given me optimism. If you have to say why you aren’t engaged, you still care.

That said, I believe that we need to make it easier to engage. As we enter the fifth year of Yulman Stadium, we need to reevaluate our ticket prices. It is a fine line between pricing to what a market will support, yet generating the revenue necessary to compete in the AAC. The line at Tulane is finer than most institutions given the demographics of our alumni base. Additionally, there were commitments made on pricing when the stadium was constructed that we have needed to honor in prior years. Decisions on football ticket pricing will be made soon after the start of the new year.

Furthermore, we need to communicate better and more often. We will be hiring an Assistant Athletic Director for Athletics Communication in early January. That person will be tasked with finding better ways to answer your questions and improve the ways we get information and data in your hands. The more effectively we can communicate, the deeper and stronger engagement can become.

Roll Wave

The evolution of the Angry Wave has been fun for all of us. In fact, we are nearly unbeaten on the branding front in the last year. But, branding does nothing more than create an affinity. Affinity is a piece of the total picture of a successful athletics department. But affinity has to grow and deepen to be of value. I should add, Angry Wave licensing revenues are off the chart compared to previous numbers (which is another piece of the picture of a successful athletics department).

The foundation is in place to support success. We have to get better every day and in every way. That fact will never change. I believe we are well on our way to setting a standard in Tulane Athletics that others will aspire to achieve. A sincere thanks to everyone for being a part of the Green Wave Nation yesterday, today and tomorrow. Now we grow the bandwagon! Happy Holidays, and Roll Wave!

Director of Athletics

So it seems the performance center will be on the Rosen Lot. That's god news. A lot more space there to do things the right way.

High School Stadium Gets You High School Football
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Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:27 pm

Michael Fitts, Troy Dannen, Coach Fritz and ALL of his assistants, and Coach Dunleavy and ALL of his assistants all deserve immediate raises and contract extensions.

When I so suggested in October the few who commented here all ridiculed the idea but, now, all of you should understand the huge reversal in attitude and performance expectations each of these men has brought about for Tulane going forward, especially President Fitts.

Time to stop whining and to put our money where our heart is.... Roll Green Wave....
Once and Again, With Smart Choices and a Bit Of Patience
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Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:27 pm

nawlinspete wrote:Michael Fitts, Troy Dannen, Coach Fritz and ALL of his assistants, and Coach Dunleavy and ALL of his assistants all deserve immediate raises and contract extensions.

When I so suggested in October the few who commented here all ridiculed the idea but, now, all of you should understand the huge reversal in attitude and performance expectations each of these men has brought about for Tulane going forward, especially President Fitts.

Time to stop whining and to put our money where our heart is.... Roll Green Wave....
For what? Let’s win first.
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