March 1, 2017
As I drive through campus on my way to work each morning, the remarkable young men and women who represent Auburn Athletics inspire me.
I see student-athletes committed to excellence going to meetings, academic mentoring sessions and training room treatments. I greet athletes who have already finished early morning workouts headed to class to start the rest of their day.
All of them came to Auburn to earn degrees, compete for championships and join the Auburn Family. They inspire me to keep my commitment to make Auburn University the best school for the best athletes.
Providing excellent facilities for our athletes and our fans is an essential part of that commitment. To compete at the highest level in today's competitive landscape of collegiate athletics, outstanding facilities are not a luxury. They are essential.
Thanks to your past contributions and the steadfast support of the university's leadership and the Board of Trustees, we have invested over $200 million in our facilities since 2005. Every sport has had a new facility or a major facility renovation during that time.
We have made tremendous progress, but we must do more.
That is why we recently sought and received approval from the Board of Trustees for two critical projects at Jordan-Hare Stadium: A major locker room expansion and construction of a new facility that will greatly enhance our recruiting efforts while providing new fan amenities for those who choose to participate.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of our football program, and we must be able to recruit at the highest level. We must also provide an outstanding gameday experience for our fans. This initial phase of our facilities master plan for Jordan-Hare Stadium meets these two core needs.
We look forward to sharing more information on the next phase of stadium improvements we will be proposing and seeking approval for in the coming months.
I am also excited about our plans to seek the resources required to invest in facility improvements for several other sports. In addition to football, we are working on plans for several potential projects that will depend on private giving.
Our vision includes plans for a state-of-the-art sports medicine facility, along with possible facility additions or improvements for Auburn softball, baseball and equestrian. As always, we will be diligent and do what it best for Auburn. Our goal is to be the best--for our student-athletes and fans.
I know we can count on the Auburn Family to once again step up and support current and future projects that are inextricably bound to our shared goal of becoming the best school for the best athletes in the nation. They deserve it because of who they are and who they represent.
I ask you to support the capital campaign for these projects, which you will hear more about in the weeks and months to come. It is vital for our future.
Tiger Giving Day
As a two-time Auburn graduate and former athlete, nothing is more important to me than ensuring we prepare our student-athletes for successful lives and careers. We owe that to them.
In recent years, our student-athletes have made tremendous strides academically across the board. They are performing better than they ever have in the classroom.
We want them to realize their dream of leaving Auburn with diplomas in their hands and rings on their fingers, but our commitment does not stop there.
Auburn Athletics is absolutely committed to ensuring our student-athletes are prepared for successful careers by giving them opportunities to have internships and work experiences that are difficult to come by for athletes with significant time commitments on the field and in the classroom.
That is why I am thrilled about the phenomenal success of Tiger Giving Day. The Auburn Family came through as it always does and showed its support for our student-athletes by donating more than $50,000—enough to fund at least five post-graduate internships at Auburn Athletics.
Our staff has also been working with companies to provide a path to internships for student-athletes in their chosen fields, and we have made tremendous progress in that effort.
We already see the benefits of giving opportunities to outstanding former athletes like All-American softball player Emily Carosone, who has interned with us this year and is gaining invaluable experience. Several other former athletes are interning in Athletics after graduation thanks to funding provided by WINGS. (Women Inspiring & Nurturing Greatness in Student-Athletes). You can read about that in a recent story HERE.
Auburn Family dedications
A week that began with the tremendous success of Tiger Giving Day ended with two incredibly special dedications at Auburn Arena last weekend. Longtime donors Mike and Virginia McCartney and Joey Pierson each had areas of the arena named and dedicated to their generous support of both Auburn Athletics and Auburn basketball.
Auburn is a special place because of the leadership and support shown time and again by loyal donors like Mr. and Mrs. McCartney and Joey Pierson.
The Mike and Virginia McCartney Atrium at Auburn Arena was dedicated at a special ceremony last Saturday honoring the longtime donors and leaders.
The atrium is now the Mike and Virginia McCartney Atrium at Auburn Arena. The McCartney family made one of the largest gifts in program history in a show of support for Coach Bruce Pearl. Their gift will enhance the men's basketball program by providing funding for travel, recruiting and facility upgrades.
Mrs. Virginia, a dear friend who loves Auburn just as much as her devoted husband, had this to say:
"I'm overwhelmed with honor. I'm just proud to be part of this because I know how much Mike loves Auburn. When we get on the highway from Gadsden, Mike turns into a different person, a happier person. We get onto campus and we feel welcomed. We feel like a part of everything going on down here. We are really honored."
I know countless members of the Auburn Family can relate to that feeling.
As Joey Pierson said on this special occasion, he is not the type to seek recognition, but he was proud to see his family name on the Joey Pierson Family Courtside Lounge. Joey hopes it serves as an example for others who love Auburn.
"The Auburn family has been very important to me," he said. "My dad taught me to love Auburn, and when I came to school here, I realized that giving back was going to be very important. It is something I wanted to teach my children, Abby and Nathan. What I hope they see is that wherever they get to in life, giving back is incredibly important."
Giving back. That is what the Auburn Family is all about. On a personal note, I want to thank my good friends, Mr. and Mrs. McCartney and Joey Pierson, for their longtime support.
Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs and Trustee Bob Dumas with Joey Pierson at Saturday's dedication of the Joey Pierson Family Courtside Lounge at Auburn Arena.
Springtime in Auburn
If you have not been to Auburn since football season, I encourage you to check out our event calendar and plan a weekend on The Plains. Our spring sports are in full swing and our winter sports are winding down.
Baseball is off to a great start and fans are enjoying new improvements at beautiful Plainsman Park. Softball is No. 2 in the nation with a great season-opening win over defending National Champion Oklahoma and more dominant wins last weekend. You can check the baseball and softball schedules here.
Equestrian will soon be defending its SEC title as it looks to make a run at another National Championship. Our No. 8 women's tennis team recently won the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic, defeating No. 5 Texas Tech in the finals. Men's tennis hosts Mississippi State on Sunday, March 5, at the Yarbrough Tennis Center in a 1 p.m. match. Men's golf will host the annual Tiger Invitational presented by Jason Dufner this weekend at Grand National in Opelika, so come out and support the Tigers.
Coach Gus Malzahn said junior Chandler Cox will be among the team's leaders heading into the fall.
Spring football begins
Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers returned to the practice field Tuesday as spring football began. I am excited about the season ahead and look forward to seeing how this team with a great mix of experienced players and new faces comes together over the next few weeks.
Of course it all culminates with A-Day, the ultimate Auburn Family Reunion. A-Day is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Make plans to bring your family to Auburn for the weekend. Auburn softball will host Ole Miss over A-Day weekend, while our track and field teams will compete in the Tiger Track Classic. Men's tennis also competes on Sunday, April 9, at 1 p.m. against Texas A&M, so there will be plenty of action all over campus.
As always, please know how much I appreciate all you do for Auburn Athletics. Your passion and loyalty make it possible for Auburn to become the best school for the best athletes. On behalf of the more than 500 student-athletes who represent Auburn, our Creed and all we stand for, thank you.
You can also follow me on Twitter at @jayjacobsauad.