May 4, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State University President Stan Albrecht:
"I told our board of trustees this morning that I tend to be really kind of an understated guy, but I got up really early this morning and stood in front of the mirror and gave myself a fist pump. It felt really good! As all of you know, Moses wondered in the wilderness for 40 years. I don't know why we had to do it for 50! We do thank you for joining us this morning, we are here today, as you all know it hasn't been a great secret, but as you all know it has been announced that Utah State University has received and that we have accepted an invitation to become a member of the Mountain West Athletic Conference."
"This is an incredible day for Utah State University. We just appreciate so much everyone who is here who has played such an important role in making this happen. You are here to celebrate with us. This year promises to be one of the most important and exciting years in the 124-year history of Utah State University. We celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Land Grant Act that created Utah State and Land Grant Universities across America. We will celebrate the completion of our first-ever comprehensive campaign. We celebrate the opening of beautiful new buildings, just like the one that we are in here this morning, and now we celebrate this announcement that will make a huge difference for Utah State University as we go forward."
"Now I know that there are some of you here today who would have liked to have seen this happen two years ago, but I remind you that none of that matters this morning. This announcement is not a look backwards but a look forward, and it is something that we have waited for a long, long time, and we are thrilled to be here. I am going to take just a minute; there isn't just one thing that caused this to happen today, there are several things that I am just going to highlight quickly, some of those important things."
"I am going to lead off with academics. The decision on conference expansion is a presidential-driven decision and so knowing that we knew that it was absolutely important for us to lead with our academic success and we have done that. As a number of institutions went through the process we always rose to the top because of the success of our student-athletes. The Presidents of the Mountain West Conference knew and valued that fact and they knew and valued that fact that by bringing Utah State University into the conference it would lift the conference academically. That was absolutely essential."
"Number two, facilities. We became a more important part of the conversation as we were able to invest in the facilities that would make us successful on the courts and on the fields, and it is that fact that we all need to understand the critical important part of the decision that was made."
"Number three, leadership. We needed the right athletics director in order for this to happen. We knew that when we selected Scott Barnes that we had selected the right guy. His untiring leadership has been absolutely critical. He has been at my side during what have been some difficult and challenging times. He has played an essential role in the success that we celebrate here today, so Scott, my personal thanks to you. Secondly, it was absolutely critical that we had coaching leadership, and I do believe now that we have the best group of coaches anywhere in this country. Their leadership is essential and without what they are doing we would not be here celebrating today. They are creating the excellence that again has allowed Utah State University to move into conversations that two years ago, one year ago, maybe even six month ago we were not in."
"Fourthly, and I really want to underscore this one, our students as most of you know have become the darlings of ESPN and the darlings of several of the other sports networks. They have brought enormous important visibility and attention to what we are doing and so today, let me offer my special thanks to the Hurd and to Aggie students everywhere who have played such an important role in our success."
"Fifth, our loyal fans. Now I know some of you sitting in this room probably feel like you have been with the institution along ever step in that 50 year journey that we have been on. Let me just thank all of you who have played such an important role in remaining loyal to Utah State University, thank you for sticking with us. That is so important to allow us to take this next important step in the history of Utah State University and in the history of Utah State University Athletics. Now we need all of you to continue to be here to help us fill Romney Stadium, to help us fill the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum every night so that we can demonstrate to the world and the nation that Aggie fans are the best around."
"Sixth, donors. We hosted the commissioners of the Mountain West Conference as well as Conference-USA a few weeks ago and you need to know one of the most important issues that we talked about in those conversations was donor support. That support has allowed us to make the progress that I have talked about on the facility side, it is essential as we move forward and so from all of us a heart felt thanks to those of you who stepped up and supported us in that way."
"Finally and seventh, the community. Our community has grown up in an essential way. One of the interesting questions that came to us through the process was sort of like, well Logan is a beautiful place but you can't get there and we were able to say to them that every football team that played in Logan last year from the outside was able to charter into the Logan Airport. Our ability now to accommodate airplanes, our ability to provide full-service hotels and restaurants has made a huge difference. To the community, thank you, all of this has been important."
"Finally, on a bit more of a personal level, I would just like to extend a personal thanks to my Western Athletic Conference colleagues, these are individuals with whom I have worked closely over the last several years. My thanks to my new Mountain West colleagues who have supported this move with a great deal of enthusiasm. To Karl Benson, for his years of support and friendship. To Craig Thompson, the first call I got this morning was from Craig. He is not here, but he said congratulations Utah State University. We are thrilled, and so Craig has helped over the last few weeks to guide us through the essential steps that brought us to this day and to him I said this morning that we look forward to this journey that is ahead."
"I would also like to thank all of those who have helped in many, many different ways to make Aggie sports more relevant in a much larger context and frankly that includes those of you who are here from the media. Many of you sitting in this room from the media helped move us from an after thought to the front page, and I thank you for that."
"Finally, all of our fans everywhere. Thanks for believing in us, we are finally there and I officially declare that our wondering is over."
Utah State University Director of Athletics Scott Barnes:
"We have had a string of press conferences that have a look and a feel more like a pre-game pep rally than a press conference! It has been exciting; thanks for all your support and for being here. It is truly a tremendous time, and I want to take this opportunity to just say thank you as well to President Albrecht who has certainly hit on many of our constituencies and groups that have helped us along the way, but first and foremost as President Albrecht talked about is the process. He talked about what the conference office was looking for, what the Board of Trustees for the Mountain West was looking for, it really does start at the top. As President Albrecht did his work and let me tell you, he did a ton of it, Presidents around the league who didn't know him and got to know him, got to have great confidence in his leadership and what he was doing. President Albrecht, on behalf of all of us thank you for your leadership and for the work that you put in for this, we appreciate you."
"Many of you have heard me say that athletics is to Utah State as a front porch is to somebody's home. It is not the most important room in the house, but it is the most visible. Well, our front porch just got a lot bigger and oh by the way we have moved to a new neighborhood as well. We are excited about that. The journey that President Albrecht talked about a little bit. Whether two years or 50 years, it has been an arduous path and at the end of the day we are exactly where we need to be, and we are excited about this. This is not a short term solution. This sets course for the next 50 years, and we are on solid ground to do so. We are very, very excited about that. A lot of opportunities come with this and some challenges; let me speak to both of those."
"First of all, this is a bigger stage for our student-athletes to perform and excel on. All along the way the opportunity for them to be closer to their competition, this league arrangement speaks to the student-athlete experience. Our student-athletes will be closer in proximity to their competition. They will miss less class time because of that. Certainly it goes with out saying, all of you fans here have a chance to travel, it is a lot easier to get to Laramie, Wyoming than getting to Ruston, Louisiana. Your opportunity to follow us is immensely improved. Why is that important? It is important because at the end of the day intercollegiate athletics at our level is as popular as it is because of regional rivalries and like institutions playing each other. We are happy that we are back in that mix in terms of Land Grant Universities that look and feel like us and geographic proximity that works well for our student-athletes and our fans. We are very, very excited, but there are challenges along the way. If you harken back six years to the beginning of our entrance into the WAC, we were at the low end in terms of resources and competitive excellence, and we leave the WAC at the high-end of both of those categories. As we step forward now into our future there will be challenges along the way and most of those challenges come in the form of like resources so that our student-athletes and coaches can compete at the level you expect and they expect. Our vision has not changed, we want to win championships and perform in the classroom at the highest level of the conference that we are entering. We are going to need your continued help in order to do that."
"On behalf of 400 student-athletes, our coaches and our staff, I want to thank the Aggie Nation - our legislators, our Board of Trustees, our alumni, our friends. So many constituents that have helped build the program we are today. It truly is a launching point for what is to come. We've ramped up in some ways. Although a lot of announcements have been made recently, it's been years in the works. Our student-athlete strength center will open next April. We believe it will be one of the finest in the West. Merlin Olsen Field renovation will take place this summer. We look forward to some renovations to our soccer facility, on-campus cross country course, and of course the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum with new scoreboards, are just a few of the upgrades that we've made, or are in the process of making. Much work needs to be done. We couldn't be happier though with the coaches we have on staff to provide the leadership to move this institution forward. We appreciate you being here."
"On behalf of 400 student-athletes, our coaches and our staff, this is a great day. All of you have played some role in this and we appreciate your support very much."
Utah State University President Stan Albrecht:
"Let me just add my thanks. Those of you in this room know how exciting this day is for all of us. It puts us at a different place athletically. It puts us at a different place academically. This institution will be positively impacted by what we're announcing today for the next number of years. Thanks to all of you. I know it's a great day for you, it's a great day for all of us. Go Aggies!"
Utah State University Head Football Coach Gary Andersen:
"This is a tremendous day number one, and first of all I would like to say thank you to President Albrecht and Mr. Barnes. This has been a tough, tough, long hard fight. A lot of things that I don't really know about other than I am going back to a conference that I am very, very familiar with and have spent a lot of time there. From A to Z it is a move in the right direction. It is a step up; we still have a great challenge in front of us with the next season in the WAC. We have to take care of that business first. I guess I can sum it up the easiest by saying our coaches today, who are out spring recruiting are recruiting now in the Mountain West Conference. That is good for us."
"I feel like this is a step up for us. This is a tremendous situation, a very fortunate situation in my opinion because of all the hard work that has gone in to this for years and years. This didn't happen overnight. We are in this position because of fans, because of donors, because of a tremendous university, tremendous city, and tremendous student body. I can go on and on. As I say, if you are going to take a step forward in athletics, in my opinion, it takes everyone involved from A to Z. I think everybody is invested, everyone has bought in, and it is a great day to celebrate moving into the Mountain West Conference."
"It will have a tremendous impact on recruiting. I have gone through that. I have recruited in the Mountain West for a number of years obviously in my time, and from being in the WAC the last three years I know you are consistently fighting to show that you can compete with the best in the Mountain West in those recruiting battles. Now we are in the Mountain West Conference. There are a lot of teams that I am familiar with, even that I have played since I have been in the WAC. There are a lot of teams that remain in the Mountain West from my time in the Mountain West. There are a lot of quality institutions. Our game will definitely have to step up. I believe that we recruit at a very high level. Recruiting, in my opinion, is about relationships because we have facilities that are getting better and better, and we have a great community to bring the kids into, so it is about relationships at the end. I think that we are very excited about getting the opportunity to get into those recruiting battles at such a high level, and we expect to win."
"The team knows kind of what we know. Most of the kids are leaving or are in finals, so I am a lot more worried about them getting their grades right now, and preparing for us to play in a very competitive WAC next year. Things like this they are a lot better on computers and have probably been tweeted and all that stuff I am sure they all know."
"Anything worth building starts with a solid foundation. The Mountain West Conference gives us a very solid foundation. There were so many questions that lurked around us in recruiting and to be quite honest with you in recruiting in the last year it has become an issue. We walked into those homes when we were in the WAC and now we are obviously playing in the Mountain West. This year, it became a little bit of an attack on us as far as where we are going and what the situation is far as our conference lives. It is good to now to be equal with a lot people that we are recruiting against, and also to be able branch out to Florida and Oklahoma and Texas, which are very important recruiting bases for us. Having that tag of the Mountain West Conference does nothing but help us."
"I am familiar with every team that is in the Mountain West. A lot of teams that have continued to fight and get better and the best teams in the WAC other than obviously Boise State is not there anymore. But the best teams in the WAC will go back and play them again. We have played Colorado State; we have played Wyoming. Obviously, we play UNLV this year, and we play Colorado State again. So if there is one team you don't always continue to look forward to playing is probably playing the option. That is one thing that you prepare and extra week for all year long. Hoping back in and playing Air Force. Coach Calhoun does a great job. I love him; I have a great respect for that guy. So that will always be a challenge just because of the difference that the offense brings. You prepare differently."
"I feel like we can step into the Mountain West and compete at a high level, and I expect us to walk in and compete at a high level. Whether it is the WAC next year or the Mountain West Conference, again it is very similar people that we have played in the past, and I expect that we will have to step up in any area. We have always considered ourselves an equal. We have been in the WAC and played against the Mountain West, and as a football program we have always strived to play against the best in the Mountain West and the best in the WAC that will continue this year and that will continue in 2013."
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