Friday Letter 2016-08-26:
Kicking Off Our Vandal Football Season
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On Thursday, Sept. 1, our Vandal football season kicks off at the Kibbie Dome. I've often referred to our Athletics program as the “front porch” of the university — the place where we come together to celebrate our heritage, our current work and our bright future. I’m confident we’ll also get to see a great game as the Montana State Bobcats come to town.
A lot has happened since our last football game. I made the difficult decision to affiliate our program with the Big Sky Conference after the 2017 season. One exciting factor in the conference change was the opportunity for regional rivalries. As a current Big Sky team, our neighboring land-grant, research institution across the mountains in Bozeman provides an example of the regional match-ups that we hope will create enthusiasm among our fans and make the University of Idaho's story more visible.
Our student-athletes are ambassadors for that story of excellence. As the father of two NCAA athletes myself, I have seen the dedication and commitment it takes to be successful. Juggling academics and athletics is not an easy proposition, especially at the Division I level, but our Vandal athletes work hard to maintain excellence on and off the field. Last year, 24 football players made either the Academic Honor Roll or the Commissioner’s List for their conference. Across other sports in fall and winter, 55 student-athletes earned Big Sky Conference All-Academic honors, with more to come when the spring results are tallied.
For student-athletes, that hard work pays off. They are highly valued by employers for their work ethic, ability to focus and commitment to task completion. Our Vandals who don’t go pro in their sports — plenty do, I should point out — join the rest of the Vandal family in contributing as leaders and innovators in industries and organizations across the nation and the world.
Our faculty and staff contribute to that success. In appreciation for that service, my office has collaborated with the Athletics Ticket Office to offer two free tickets to the Sept. 1 game for our Vandal employees. Additional tickets can be purchased for just $5. Thank you to all UI employees for contributing to the excellence of the University of Idaho.
I hope to see as many Vandals as possible in the Idaho Fan Zone, coming together to root on our student-athletes. We will set up on the SprinTurf just east of the dome with live music, great food and plenty of activities for kids. The Vandal Marching Band will offer its customarily rousing, occasionally irreverent routine to get us energized. Admission to the Fan Zone is free — just come ready to have fun and cheer on our team as it heads into the season, representing the best of the Vandal spirit.