December 28, 2015
Turning the calendar to 2016 is an opportune time for a quick look ahead and some brief reflection about where we've been.
It's also a time for me to thank the Auburn Family.
We are working hard every day to make Auburn University the best school for the best athletes in the nation. That takes a serious commitment to hire and support the best coaches. It also requires a significant investment in world-class facilities and cutting-edge support resources to create the best student-athlete experience anywhere.
Smart planning and an outstanding staff are vitally important, but you are the key.
Your generous financial support and presence at athletic events is critical. You are the reason we are able to support our coaches at the highest level. You are the reason we are able to give our student-athletes every opportunity to grow, develop and compete on the field and the courts, in the pool and in the classroom. My goal is to help our students succeed in college – and in life.
With your continued help and financial support, Auburn will be the best university for the best athletes in the nation. This will continue to be my commitment as Director of Athletics.
So thank you for helping us make Auburn a special place for those who represent us.
In January, I will give a speech in which I announce my goals for 2016. Winning and providing the best student-athlete experience anywhere will continue to be our focus, among other goals. I look forward to sharing more goals and specifics with the Auburn Family in those remarks.
While we are never complacent, overall I'm pleased with where we are. This is why:
- We have arguably the best group of coaches overall we've ever had at Auburn. They are proven winners who understand our goal is to be consistent and compete for championships.
- We have a record number of student-athletes with a 3.0 or higher GPA.
- Financially, Auburn Athletics is on very solid ground. We finished the most recent Fiscal Year with record revenues and an operating surplus of $6.9 million.
- Our new apparel contract with Under Armour ranks among the top five apparel deals in the nation, and we look forward to announcing a ground-breaking multimedia rights deal soon.
- We have sold out of football season tickets two years in a row, and basketball season tickets sold out once again this year.
- Auburn is currently in the longest stretch in school history with no major NCAA violations. We are committed to a culture of compliance, but it takes daily vigilance and all of us are committed to that.
Potential JHS renovation
You are likely aware of preliminary plans for a potential renovation in the North End Zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium. As we said in a recent release about a survey shared with some of our season ticket holders, the findings will ultimately determine whether a major renovation can move forward.
The feasibility phase must show significant interest and financial support for the project to happen. The renovation is designed to improve amenities and the flow in the stadium for all fans while also creating more premium seating options and club-style amenities in high demand. You can read more about the plans and the survey HERE.
Because of your support and thoughtful strategic planning by a talented staff, we now have outstanding facilities and the best support personnel and resources anywhere. There are too many to mention here, but our significant investment in the student-athlete experience is paying off for recruiting and for our current student-athletes, who work hard at two full-time jobs as students and athletes.
A few of the areas we've invested in include mentoring and academic support, a $6.5 million Wellness Kitchen and a cutting-edge nutrition program. Over the past few years, we have renovated or built new strength and conditioning facilities overseen by outstanding staff, we have expanded our sports medicine support and we have recently added and continue to expand resources such as a team psychologist to make sure we are taking care of our athletes' overall well-being.
On the right track
While the 2015 football season fell short of expectations, Auburn football is in capable hands and is being supported at the highest level. Coach Malzahn is building the program the right way, and the goal is to get to a level where we can win with consistency, which has been a challenge throughout the history of Auburn football.
We have 21 sports, and most are thriving or on the way up. We had 17 of 21 teams make postseason play last year. Soccer enjoyed the best year in school history this fall. Both of our basketball programs are on the rise, with Coach Pearl's team taking on the toughest preseason schedule in memory in preparation for conference play. Coach Flo's team has been playing at a high level as they also gear up for SEC action.
Tickets are sold out for softball, and we are working on short and long-term actions to accommodate the remarkable surge in interest in one of the most exciting sports on campus. Of course our gymnastics team had one of its best seasons in history last year, and we look forward to watching a younger team compete in Auburn Arena in 2016.
In good hands
Auburn baseball is in good hands with Coach Butch Thompson, who is the right man at the right time to lead our program. Coach Thompson is one of the best recruiters in the country with a proven track record of developing the talent he attracts. Our baseball staff now includes the last two national assistant coaches of the year. Auburn baseball will be fun to watch the next few years as Butch leads our program back to prominence.
Our men's golf team is ranked #1 in the nation and our outstanding equestrian team has also been ranked #1 in the country recently. Our swimming and diving teams are also off to a great start. Volleyball improved again this year and had several program-defining wins. We are making investments to ensure it gets the resources coaches and student-athletes deserve. Those are just a few of our sports performing well.
Auburn being Auburn
My hope is you and your family enjoyed the holidays. If you did not get a chance to watch the new War Eagle Productions video of Schmid Elementary School's Auburn experience and how it changed both of us, it would be worth your time.
The video reminds me that giving back and making a difference for future generations is what's really important. We will continue to love and support the Schmid scholars even as we plan new ways to reach more schools in the coming years. I believe community service is an integral part of the student-athlete experience. It will continue to be an important part of what we do because it is who we are.
I hope to see many of you at the Birmingham Bowl on Wednesday. I appreciate the many fine leaders and volunteers who have been great ambassadors for the Magic City and wonderful hosts for our team.
Thanks again for making the financial sacrifices to support our programs. We could not do it without you.
Happy New Year, God Bless and War Eagle!
You can also follow me on Twitter at @jayjacobsauad.