The Good Word

March 15, 2012

TO: Fans, Friends, and Supporters of Georgia Tech Athletics

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

Let’s Go Dancing
Greetings Tech fans. First, let me give a shout out to Coach MaChelle Joseph and our women’s basketball team. Fresh off their appearance in the ACC Championship game, the Jackets earned their highest seed ever at #4 as we begin play in our sixth straight NCAA Tournament. The ladies will take on Sacred Heart Sunday at 2:50 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C.

This regional draw is a favorable one because the venue does not have a home school involved. ACC rival North Carolina narrowly missed the tournament field this year leaving a neutral court for those competing over the weekend and into early next week. A victory over Sacred Heart on Sunday would set up a matchup with the winner of the Georgetown-Fresno State game at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the right to move on to the Sweet 16 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Final Four will be in Denver.

Best of luck to the Yellow Jackets in the Big Dance! For all the information you will need about Georgia Tech’s NCAA appearance, visit Tournament Central at www.ramblinwreck.com.

McCamish Pavilion Unveiled
We have received quite a bit of reaction to the many elements we are beginning to make available with regard to the new McCamish Pavilion. The construction continues on schedule for an October 2012 opening and the anticipation is growing daily.

I hope you have had the opportunity to review both our printed publication and our amazing new website at www.gtmccamishpavilion.com. There is a wealth of building information, renderings, timelines and our 3D product, which allows you see the view from seats in all sections of the new arena. It is indeed an exciting time as we begin rebuilding our men’s basketball program under the guidance of Coach Brian Gregory.

There is also information and a Q & A section on the seat selection process, which will begin in late April. Selection will be prioritized by Alexander-Tharpe Fund points. If you are so inclined, you may make a donation to the A-T Fund by the close of business tomorrow – March 16 – and that amount will be included to increase your point total to perhaps move up in the selection process. For information on this or to make a donation, please call Kevin Kitchens at 404-894-5390.

I would like to provide a reminder of a couple of significant dates and other information that I’m sure you’ll find helpful:

Group Seating
You may select your seats adjacent to a family member, friend, classmate or colleague. All individuals within a group must submit a written group seating request to the Georgia Tech Ticket Office. Click here for the group seating request form. Everyone in your group will be assigned the same selection date and time. The deadline to submit your request is March 23, 2012. The average point total of your group will be used to determine the group seat selection ranking within the Alexander-Tharpe (A-T) Fund priority point system.

Reservation List
Individuals who did not have 2011-12 men’s basketball season tickets at Philips Arena must join the reservation list in order to be notified about ticket availability. The reservation list is the best opportunity to be notified if season tickets become available after the season ticket holder seat selection process. If seats are available following the first priority allocation, requests for new season tickets will be filled by those that are on the reservation list and prioritized by Alexander-Tharpe (A-T) Fund points. Those who are requesting to be placed on the reservation list must do so by May 1, 2012. Your non-refundable reservation list deposit of $50 will be applied to the purchase of your season tickets. Click here to join the reservation list today.

Discussing the TECH Fund
Among the early feedback I have received is a discourse on the published chart related to our TECH Fund pricing for the various seating locations in McCamish Pavilion. Keep in mind we have not yet released our ticket prices for the opening season in the new facility, and for most of you that combination of TECH Fund, plus ticket price, is most important. Presently, Georgia Tech ranks sixth out of 12 ACC teams in average basketball ticket price.

It occurred to me that a brief history lesson on the TECH Fund might be helpful. When we first arrived at Tech in 2006 there was no plan in place for a seat donation program. This type of program has become prevalent across much of college athletics and, given the precarious nature of the budget process and debt service structure related to football expansion and other projects of the early 2000’s, it was imperative that we stabilize our annual donation program. It just made good business sense.

Prior to 2007, annual donations to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund fluctuated somewhat from year to year. There was no consistent way to create a sound fiscal plan that would feed the ever-growing demand for operational dollars to fund a competitive Division I athletic program competing in the ACC. The TECH Fund might best be described as a campaign conducted each year for the purpose of raising money to assist in paying regular, ongoing expenses. The money it raises is used to offset operational costs, but can be applied to any purpose.

While our alumni, friends and fans have always been very generous in their financial support through the years, we needed to create a source of annual revenue that was reasonably stable and predictable. The giveback was that the advent of the TECH Fund diminished our need to constantly reach out to the Georgia Tech population for unrestricted donations throughout the year. It became your annual contribution to the support of Georgia Tech Athletics.

Since its inception the TECH Fund has generated between $4.5 and $5 million annually in much needed consistent support to our athletic program. What is also gratifying is that many of you have continued to give above and beyond your TECH Fund donation. With some continuation in unrestricted giving each year and annual donations to specific sports increasing rapidly, Georgia Tech Athletics has seen an increase in total philanthropic support from $4.6 million in 2006 – the year prior to the TECH Fund – to more than $9 million in recent years. Georgia Tech’s ability to raise endowed funds through the years has been notable. Tech’s athletic endowment of $106 million ranks third in the ACC and we are second in percentage of scholarship costs funded by endowment income.

This is clearly a sign of a program with a dedicated and generous fan base willing to assist financially in keeping our programs competing at a national level across the board. As commendable as this total is, it may surprise you to know, however, that our annual fund-raising figure ranks us seventh among our peers in the ACC.

A check of the schools in the ACC reveals that at least half of them have a program in which seating location is tied to a donation level. And, while we have not yet released our 2012-13 ticket prices, it is likely we will drop into the lower half of the conference in average ticket price.

Now is the Time for Commitment
Some might say that we should roll back the financial expectations of the fan base given we are starting at a historic low point from a win-loss perspective. I say it is just the opposite. Of all times, this is the time to make a commitment to help Brian Gregory take us back onto the national scene. From within the organization we have done that. None of us should like the fact that Selection Sunday comes around without Georgia Tech being relevant in the discussion. So here is the skinny:

Over the last couple of years, with the support and encouragement of many Georgia Tech fans, donors and alumni, we have made a monumental commitment to returning our men’s basketball program to national prominence. We committed to a very difficult and costly coaching change, have made numerous improvements to our men’s basketball infrastructure, have completed a state-of-the-art practice facility and now are putting the finishing touches on the new dynamic McCamish Pavilion. In all, we have invested nearly $70 million into the future of basketball at Georgia Tech.

From the business side, the good news is that we have a plan in place that has involved re-structuring our new and existing debt in such a way that the impact to our annual debt-service costs from the operational athletics budget will be manageable as we pay down and eventually retire the debt.

The end result for our fans is that we have tried to maintain a reasonable pricing structure. Since the TECH Fund took effect in 2007 there have been only minor tweaks. In many cases, football TECH Fund costs have gone down, not up. Any seating sections in football that have seen an increase of any kind, it has been minimal. Our basketball TECH Fund pricing has never been increased since inception. We have proven that while ticket prices may see annual fluctuation, we have not chosen to fluctuate our TECH Fund pricing.

That TECH Fund pricing has now been set for the new McCamish Pavilion. It was set based on the seating location, comfort level, access and amenities in the new arena. Keep in mind, while the dome above the facility still exists, everything underneath has changed. It is impossible to draw pricing comparisons with the previous venue because it is just a totally new and different fan experience.

Together We Rebuild
So, as we draw closer to the opening of the new Pavilion and begin a truly new era of Georgia Tech basketball, I urge you to consider the impact you have made in our ability to infuse great inertia into our quest to re-gain prominence. Your continued participation in the TECH Fund concept is the fuel that will propel our resurgence. Your understanding of its importance to our business model and how it will help us become a consistently successful and fiscally sound program is critical.

In all of this don’t underestimate the appreciation that we have for all that our fans do to support us financially. There are many levels of participation and we salute each and every one. We can never say thank you enough. Together, we will fill McCamish Pavilion and Georgia Tech basketball will once again be a source of relevance and pride. It takes the commitment of each and every one of us.

NCAA Appeal
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that our appeal of a portion of our NCAA sanctions was denied by the Appeals Committee last week. For the second time in this process we felt we had a compelling case and that some of the components could and should be viewed differently. However, our view did not prevail. I apologize to all of our fans that this second and final round did not have a positive outcome for Georgia Tech.

Be assured that during this process we have definitely strengthened our resolve to remain steadfast with our compliance of NCAA procedure. We have re-shaped our compliance staff and solidified our external consultant relationships. We will now move forward having learned valuable lessons in the process. Again, I want to reiterate that the sanctions imposed on our program last summer have no ongoing effect on our ability to compete. We lost no scholarships and suffered no ban on post-season play or television opportunities.

Among many invaluable lessons learned is to always look outside for advice and counsel when there are inquiries into NCAA matters within a program. Situations always look different from within the elephant, so to speak. As President Bud Peterson has said, we certainly would have been in a better position had we engaged outside counsel in the early days of the investigation. Now, we move on.

Danny Hall’s Milestone
Sometime this weekend – perhaps as early as tomorrow night – our longtime baseball coach Danny Hall will become just the 47th Division I coach to win 1,000 career games. Danny is in his 25th year overall and his 19th season with us here on the Flats. The Jackets take on Virginia Tech this weekend in a three-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Most importantly, we will have an official celebration of this landmark accomplishment on Saturday, April 7th when we celebrate Danny Hall 1,000 Night at the ballpark. Stay tuned for a host of promotions and giveaways that will occur that night when we take on the Florida State Seminoles. This is an event you won’t want to miss.

This weekend, Friday’s game starts at 6 p.m. with a Saturday affair at 4 p.m. and the Sunday finale at 1 p.m. Since Coach Hall now sits at 999 victories, fans purchasing tickets to tomorrow night’s game at the gate will get a game ticket and a voucher for popcorn and a soft drink for $9.99. Hope to see you at the ballpark.

Spring Practice and Friday Night on the Flats
Just a couple more weeks until spring football practice begins here at Tech. Our students will be away on spring break the week of the 19th, but return to the sound of pads colliding beginning on March 26th. Spring drills conclude with a major extravaganza this year as we’ll host Friday Night on the Flats on April 20th. There will be pre- and post-game concerts, fireworks, celebrity appearances and much more. Details will follow soon.

Caravan Dates Set
I am once again looking forward to our spring Caravan. We’ll make several stops this year with Wes Durham hosting these gatherings with appearances by Paul Johnson, Brian Gregory and MaChelle Joseph. Here’s the schedule so you can save the date for the stop closest to you:

Tuesday, May 7, 2012
6pm- 8pm
Augusta. GA (First Baptist Church)

Thursday, May 10, 2012
6pm-8pm
Columbus, GA (Cunningham Center)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
6pm- 8pm
Atlanta, GA (Georgia Tech Hotel and Convention Center)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
6pm-8pm
Dalton, GA (The Farm Country Club)

RSVP for one of these caravan stops here: http://www.ramblinwreck.com/ot/caravan.html.

Amy’s Angels:
Last night, the Georgia Tech softball team also kicked off its month long campaign to raise money for former softball alum Amy Hosier, who has been diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer. All donations collected at the games this month will go directly to Amy’s Angels and we ask you join the Georgia Tech softball team in this fight tonight. If you can’t make it out to the game, donations are being accepted online at AmysAngels21.com.

Softball:
The softball team is coming off of a big 2-0 win over No. 8 Georgia last night in front of a packed crowd at Mewborn Field. The victory was the team’s third over a top-10 opponent this season and the ladies are 4-2 against teams ranked in the top-25 in 2012. It was also the first victory over Georgia since 2008. Sharon Perkins and the Yellow Jackets will bounce back quickly as they host Jacksonville State tonight at 6 p.m. under the lights. The team will also play host to Boston College this weekend for a three game series with the Eagles where it will look to pick up its first win in ACC play this season. Make sure you come out and support your Yellow Jackets

Women’s Tennis:
The Yellow Jacket women’s tennis team began a five-match, 10-day road trip with a win over the Auburn Tigers Wednesday afternoon. Head Coach Bryan Shelton’s team will spend Spring Break in Florida when they take on the Florida State Seminoles Saturday and the Miami Hurricanes next Wednesday. Tech then heads up the East Coast for a match at Maryland next Friday before a quick turnaround to face the Boston College Eagles Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets will finally return home when they host UNC and Duke, March 30 and April 1, respectively.

Men’s Tennis:
Head coach Kenny Thorne’s team got back on the winning track Tuesday with a 7-0 win over Miami at the Bill Moore Tennis Center, and is preparing to host a pair of home Atlantic Coast Conference matches next week vs. Boston College (March 23) and Maryland (March 25). Senior Kevin King is having an excellent spring both as a singles player (11-2, ranked No. 13), and in tandem with Juan Spir in doubles (11-1, ranked No. 2). Admission to all home matches is free.

Golf:
In an effort to prepare for the NCAA Championship at famed Riviera Country Club at the end of May, head coach Bruce Heppler’s team is making a trip to the West Coast during spring break. The Yellow Jackets have a dual match with UCLA scheduled Sunday at Riviera and a practice round there on Monday. Later in the week, the 8th-ranked Yellow Jackets head to the San Diego area for the two-day Barona Collegiate Cup.

Track:
The Georgia Tech track and field teams will begin their outdoor season at home at the George C Griffin Track and Field Complex when they host the Georgia Intercollegiate Invitational on March 16 and 17. The majority of the events will take place on Friday, with the relays to be held on Saturday afternoon. The Georgia Intercollegiate Invitational is a college only invitational solely involving teams from Georgia schools and the two-day event will be run in conjunction with the Georgia High School Coaches Invitational.

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