Why Athletics Is An Integral Part of the Aztec Experience

Something very special happened this past Friday night.  In a match-up of two teams undefeated in conference play,Aztec football players celebrate a score during the team's 48-14 victory over Utah State. our football team defeated a strong Utah State team, 48-14, in front of a crowd of 26,000 members of our community and a national TV audience.  Our team had faced significant challenges at the beginning of the season, and it was wonderful to see the team overcome these adversities.  While the game was a challenging one for our Utah State counterparts, they are a fine team and we know they also will rebound.  For us, we look forward to the remainder of the season, including our next home game – the Homecoming game against Wyoming on Nov. 14.

In many ways, our victory illustrated the best of college football.  Supported by our community, our players and coaches worked together, they persevered through adversity and their hard work and effort were rewarded.  It was great to hear our community’s pride in SDSU’s athletics’ achievements – the women’s soccer team won its fourth consecutive conference title on Sunday – as I traveled throughout the city this weekend.

Members of the women's soccer team hold their trophy for winning a fourth consecutive Mountain West championship in 2015.We are in a time of extraordinary change in college athletics, and this weekend of success and achievement provides an opportunity to reflect on three aspects of our athletics programs – the role they can play in supporting the broader university, the challenges they face in today’s environment and the incredible opportunities they can provide to our student-athletes.  Our tradition of athletics’ achievement is strong at San Diego State, and we are poised to seize these opportunities and to meet our challenges.

Turning to athletics’ broader role, our programs are a highly visible aspect of our university’s culture of achievement and excellence.  In athletics, our aspirations are to contend at the highest competitive level and to conduct our programs with the highest level of integrity.  Our successes are a powerful and tangible symbol of our entire community’s commitment to excellence in our educational programs, our research programs and our creative efforts.  This ethos of achievement is reflected in our university’s countless national recognitions and honors.  Thus, the aspirations of our athletics programs are part of our overall aspirations for excellence.

The primary challenge our athletics program faces in today’s landscape is that, fueled by media revenues, the expenditures of some top-ranked programs have increased dramatically.  For example, Ohio State now spends $114 million annually on its athletics programs.  These spending increases have reshaped the competitive landscape and, in some cases, they reflect a shift in university priorities.  To meet this challenge, we must balance the need to make financial investments to compete at the highest level with the fiscal prudence necessary to sustain the primacy of our educational, research and service missions. Attaining this balance involves generating revenues from philanthropic and other private sources to support our athletics programs, and ensuring that tuition revenues and state support are expended on our core missions. Similarly, we must ensure that our expenditures on athletics scholarships, facilities and personnel produce the greatest possible impact on our student-athletes’ development and our teams’ competitive opportunities – these cannot simply be automated efforts to attain parity in spending with other universities.

Finally, and in many ways most important, we have the opportunity with our athletics programs to reaffirm and dedicate ourselves to the ideal that the personal, professional and intellectual development of each student-athlete is the central purpose of these programs.  We want to be recognized not just for competing at the highest level, but also for providing the greatest possible support of our student-athletes’ personal development and growth.  Given the breadth and diversity of the academic and personal abilities of our student-athletes, this opportunity will mean different things for different student-athletes.  Some will participate in a co-curricular activity like study abroad or research, while others will take advantage of further academic enrichment to prepare for graduate school or obtain an internship to support career opportunities.  Whatever form they take, these opportunities for personal growth will have the common ingredient of helping our student-athletes develop their potential for a productive and meaningful life after their athletic careers end.

We are blessed at San Diego State to have an exceptional Department of Intercollegiate Athletics directed by Jim Sterk, and we are fortunate to have coaches, student-athletes and staff members whose daily focus is moving our programs and our university forward.  I am grateful to them and to all of the supporters in our community who are helping our programs and our student-athletes achieve excellence.

SDSU running back Donnel Pumphrey turns the corner during his 181-yard, two-touchdown game against Utah State.

19 Comments

Filed under Athletics, Uncategorized

19 responses to “Why Athletics Is An Integral Part of the Aztec Experience

  1. J. Angelo Corlett

    Very well put, President Hirshman. Many faculty simply do not grasp or refuse to recognize the positive role that student athletics can and often does play in a university. Thank you again for serving as such a positive voice in our community of scholars.–Angelo Corlett

  2. Sandra Williams

    I enjoyed reading your comments, President Hirshman. Thank you.

  3. As a Lifetime Member of the Aztec Club and Alumni Association, I fully appreciate your comments and urge all SDSU alumni, fans and friends to support our Men’s and Women’s athletic programs! The teams are terrific, the atmosphere is family friendly and the cost is a BARGAIN! Go Aztecs))

  4. Thank you, Mr. President! As a Lifetime Alum, and Immediate Past President of the Aztec Club, I applaud your comments. As Jeff Clark said, it is so important to support our student athletes! We have the finest Athletic Director in this country, and our coaching staffs from top to bottom in all sports are absolutely the best SDSU has ever had, and I have been involved since I graduated in 1969!

  5. Jim Lundquist

    The MIGHTY SDSU Aztecs have indeed been representing our city and our university very well. I believe we have been far and away the best in the Mountain West Conference in all sports for several years. I truly enjoy attending many events over many decades and many events on the road as well. The challenge for all college sports appears to be the division between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. I hope we can find a way into a conference which brings in additional TV revenue so we can continue to complete and beat the best.

  6. Garrett J Reynolds Sr

    My daughter graduated from SDSU, earning her graduate degree in the class of 2015.
    I have supported the Aztecs teams for several years as a season ticketholder of both Men’s and Women’s Basketball in addition to the Football team.
    Even with the recent increases the teams are terrific, and our city is proud of the high effort level and success of our student-athletes.

    Aztec-Dad

  7. craig nelson

    Eloquently stated President Hirshman. Success on the field and in the classroom continues to propel the value of our SDSU degrees higher. It’s time for SDSU graduates and supporters to raise our level of giving to continue the momentum. Aztec for Life!

  8. Jones

    Let’s build an on-campus football stadium and truly have a home for Aztec Football.

    • Carol Meier

      I agree with you, Jones. An on-campus football stadium would be a dream come true for me and it could do for football what Viejas Arena has done for basketball. I only hope I live long enough to see it come true!

  9. Tita Gray

    Athletics makes the difference, win or lose, we are one SDSU.

  10. Mark Richards, BSME, Class of 1995, Lifetime Alumni

    Mr. President your message and timing is on point. I think that it is reasonable to extrapolate the rise and profitability of professional football to the success Aztec football had here in San Diego (thanks in large part to Coach Coryell among others). Should the Chargers leave town there is a legion of people who will come support the Aztecs as never before. Kudos to Jim Sterk for bringing in class act coaches who understand the value of teamwork, integrity, common sense and hard work to the mesa. Attitude and Effort are mantras that apply across the board in all aspects of life. The Chargers ownership should take note of this. As you have pointed out, however, it’s all about the money and State will continue to need the support of its alumni and local businesses to support its efforts. I’m pretty sure that without a professional football team in town the Aztecs will benefit significantly even with the rent at the Q going up 1200%. Go State!

  11. We still need a commitment to improved facilities for football and more money for a better coaching staff (one that can win non-conference games against FBS teams with winning records). The Mountain West is a weak conference at best, unfortunately. Winning conference games means much less now than when schools like Utah, TCU, and BYU were part of the conference. San Diego State has a rich history when it comes to football. We need to make sure that the commitment from the Administration to the program will allow it to live up to that history.

  12. Carol Meier

    A very good article, President Hirshman. As a graduate and lifetime alumnus of SDSU, I am very impressed with the athletics and scholastic programs of this great university. Keep up the good work! We are behind you 100%.

  13. Tom Lang

    Well-stated President Hirshman. Aztec sports are an important part of the SDSU experience.
    I am going to make the assumption that the Chargers are leaving San Diego. If that occurs I believe San Diego County would support building a new “downsized” stadium on the Qualcomm site. This new stadium would not be built to please the NFL owners. It would be built to please and serve the needs of the citizens of San Diego County as well as SDSU. It could potentially hold 45,000 spectators. It would be the home of SDSU football and other SDSU field sports. It could hold high school championship games, pro soccer, concerts and other revenue-producing events. Maybe even a NCAA basketball championship game. It could be uniquely designed and become a focal point of development for the University and other commercial enterprises in the Q area.
    It will not be “Super Bowl” quality and will not be able to sell 400k per year sky boxes.
    But it also will not cost 1.2 billion dollars. It is my understanding that civic leaders have committed somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 million dollars to the current proposed stadium. I believe there would be enough support to divert some of the proposed monies to a new downsized project. If the Chargers do leave I believe the timing would be right.
    I have had the opportunity to attend several several Super Bowls. But my greatest football memories were attending overflow crowds at Aztec Bowl and Balboa Stadium in the mid-sixties.

  14. Fred Williams

    This is ignorant. A true university is about learning. As long as SDSU continues squandering money on athletics, you’ll never have my support.

    • Read the Presidents address, again, my friend. You are the ignorant one.

      Larry Cook
      Immediate Past President
      SDSU Aztec Club

      My family is four generations Aztecs, and my wife and I have left a sizable amount of our estate to the University. I suggest you remember where you got your education, if you indeed graduated from SDSU, and give back financially or otherwise, regardless of your opinion of Athletics!

      • Dear Fred Williams,
        I believe you do not appreciate the positive impact that successful collegiate athletics has on the student body, faculty, alumni and community.
        As a matter of fact, Aztec Athletics directly contributes positive revenue to SDSU in the form of scholarships, building projects and endowments that benefit a wide variety of academic programs. Rise UP Fred and support our alma mater.

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