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The Good Word

Jan. 24, 2008

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

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

This is a bit of a landmark date for Georgia Tech Athletics. Tonight, for the first time since 1993, two ranked teams will meet at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in the sport of women’s basketball. If you’ve never attended a women’s game, or if it’s been a while since your last, you would be remiss in not trying to see your way down tonight. MaChelle Joseph’s 16-3 Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 23 in this week’s polls. It’s been 14 years since a Georgia Tech women’s basketball team has appeared in the national rankings. Tonight’s opponent is 10th-ranked Duke. Game time is 7 p.m. Hope to see you there.

Speaking of rankings, the spring is setting up quite nicely for us. Bryan Shelton’s defending national champion women’s tennis team is a pre-season No. 1 and just opened its season with a 7-0 victory over Auburn. Bruce Heppler’s men’s golf team is ranked No. 5. Our softball team, under second-year coach Sharon Perkins, begins the season at No. 17 in the nation and Danny Hall’s baseball Jackets check in at No. 25.

I had an opportunity to share these and other Georgia Tech facts and figures at our second annual State of the Athletics Program gathering at the Georgia Tech Hotel last Friday. This lunchtime gathering was for all of those designated “Life Members” in our Alexander-Tharpe Fund hierarchy. I am pleased to say that the event was attended by more than 140 participants – the largest such group ever convened according to longtime observers.

Among the other issues we shared were our academic initiatives for the coming year. There are several policies and procedures that we feel put our student athletes at a disadvantage as compared to non-athletes. We have received wonderful cooperation from the academic community – notably Provost Gary Schuster and many members of the Faculty Senate.

We also talked at length about several capital projects either currently underway or on the drawing board in the near future. Not the least of which is the construction of a new softball stadium in the upper O’Keefe parking lot. That project will soon move from the planning stage to actual construction with completion scheduled in time for the 2009 season. We’re getting ever closer to our goal of moving forward with the Zelnak Basketball Center adjacent to the AMC. This will provide additional practice and training facilities for our men’s and women’s hoops teams.

Finally, I shared the good news that we are progressing on two financially favorable negotiations involving our apparel manufacturer and supplier Russell Athletics as well as the future of our multi-media rights, currently held by ISP. The 2008 calendar year will most certainly bring closure to these two major components and will bring Georgia Tech Athletics solid partnerships and appropriate financial rewards.

Several other events have dotted the recent and future landscape as well. Last evening, President Wayne Clough, Coach Paul Johnson and me enjoyed a gathering with current and future contributors to our Athletic Director’s Initiative Fund. This has been a highly-successful fund-raising effort which gives us the ability to go above and beyond normal budgetary expenditures on those special projects which are deemed critical to our continued success. This robust group had a great evening getting to know our new football coach and hearing of his plans for the success of Georgia Tech football.

I am very excited about a gathering this coming Monday night to honor those who have endowed scholarships for athletics here at Tech. Many of the student-athletes who are the recipients of these endowments will be on hand at the Biltmore Hotel to say thank you in a special way.

Our February social calendar is loaded as well, as Georgia Tech will be well-represented at a number of functions. Our signing day celebration on Wednesday February 6th will take place at Opera – a fun and historic midtown club at Crescent and 14th Street, near the Four Seasons Hotel. Festivities run from 6-8 with Coach Johnson and his assistants filling us in on our 2008 recruiting class. Don’t forget our annual baseball leadoff dinner with Chipper Jones as guest speaker will be held February 9th at the Georgia Tech Hotel. I will lead a delegation at the Atlanta Sports Awards banquet on Monday, February 11 at the Fox Theater and again at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame dinner at Cobb Galleria on February 16.

All of these are more examples of how we are continuing to take our message to the city of Atlanta. Georgia Tech is and always has been a part of the fabric of this great city and it is up to us to represent that in every way.

And speaking of that kind of representation, I have received a number of letters and e-mails lauding the appearance of a number of our student-athletes at the opening ceremonies of the Georgia Special Olympics last Friday. Rachel May, the Regional Manager of the event wrote to us in an e-mail: “We were especially impressed with your athletes who stayed late into the event, signing autographs, posing for pictures and even dancing with our athletes. The willingness of the Georgia Tech athletes to volunteer their time on Friday evening to attend a Special Olympics event is a real testament to the high caliber of your athletic program and your University as a whole.”

I can’t finish on a higher note than that!

Good Week For Men’s Hoops
Women’s basketball takes center stage tonight (Jan. 24), but you have to feel good about the week that the Yellow Jacket men’s team has enjoyed. After showing a great deal of heart in a one-point loss to No. 1-ranked North Carolina, Coach Hewitt’s team beat Virginia Tech last week for its first ACC win. Last night in Raleigh, Tech beat NC State for the first time ever in the RBC Center. This team has made impressive strides since November.

Home Opener For Women’s Tennis
The No. 1-ranked and defending NCAA champion women’s tennis team will play its home opener Saturday at 1 p.m. against South Florida. One week later, Coach Shelton’s team will host Northwestern. I hope you can come out to watch some of the best amateur tennis in the country.

Recruits Must Be Impressed
Five Yellow Jackets will play Saturday in the Senior Bowl – college football’s most prestigious all-star game. Southern California, with nine, is the only school with more participants. Good luck to Tashard Choice, Durant Brooks, Philip Wheeler, Darrell Robertson and Gary Guyton.

Speaking of football, many Tech fans will be cheering for the New York Giants in the upcoming Super Bowl; not because we want to see the underdog win, but because three former Yellow Jackets are G-men. James Butler, Michael Matthews and Gerris Wilkinson all see considerable playing time for the NFC champion Giants.

Improving Website
Our new-look website continues to see significant improvements, especially in the area of video. For example, in the video section of our website today, you can watch a) highlights of Wednesday night’s basketball win at NC State; b) video of our student-athletes participating in the Habitat For Humanity program; c) an interview with baseball head coach Danny Hall; d) women’s basketball highlights from the recent home win vs. Miami, or e) the second in a series of interviews with our new set of football coaches – this week, Brian Bohannon. And unlike many websites, you can watch all of it at no charge.

Lofty Softball Rankings
Coach Sharon Perkins’ softball team is getting some notice and the first pitch hasn’t even been thrown. The Yellow Jackets have their highest preseason national ranking (17th) ever and Tech is picked to finish third in the preseason ACC poll.

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