On a good trail for fundraising
In his third month on the job, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne has restructured the department, creating a five-person executive committee and a 15-person senior staff.
"I tried not to rush to judgment on anything," he said. "But it was important to move quickly. We've got a lot of work to do."
Much of that work is related to financing. Byrne's approach is 180 degrees different from that of his predecessor, Jim Livengood.
Most notably, Byrne promoted three fundraisers and gave them the titles of associate athletic director: Judi Kessler, Ryan Hansen and Erika Barnes. Byrne also named Scott Shake as his chief fundraiser and appointed him to the executive committee. In addition, Byrne hired a full-time fundraiser in Phoenix.
The UA needs to generate in excess of $75 million (and that's just a start) to get its football plant up to BCS levels. Byrne is a bulldog in fundraising and he does much of it himself. He calls it "donor cultivation." He is approachable and accommodating.
Livengood, by comparison, delegated fundraising and was somewhat of a man of mystery. Two of his most recent UA fundraising hires, Julio Freire and Jay Vickers, have since joined Livengood's staff at UNLV.
This is a new way of doing things. It is overdue.
"We try to get out and meet as many people as we can, in Tucson or out of Tucson," Byrne said. "It's important for us to go where the people are."
The most visible change is that Byrne has re-established relations with UA alumnus Karl Eller, who is among a handful of the most prominent Wildcat donors ever. "We've had dinner with Karl and his wife, Stevie, twice," said Byrne, who flew to San Diego to meet with the Ellers and former UA athletic director Ced Dempsey last weekend.
Eller was estranged from the Livengood administration. Byrne has been smart enough to restore that relationship as soon as possible.
Track and field
Ex-Wildcat Arnold rises to No. 2 in world rankings
Tucsonan Jake Arnold, who won the NCAA decathlon championship at Arizona in 2006 and 2007, has climbed to No. 2 in the world rankings. His victory in the recent USA Track and Field decathlon ended his 2010 season and puts him in position to be America's top decathlete at the 2012 London Olympics.
"I sent Jake to Catalina Islands for a two-week vacation," said UA assistant track coach Sheldon Blockburger, who remains Arnold's coach. "He has been competing in Europe through the spring and summer."
Arnold's season included a victory in Italy, a fourth-place finish in Austria and a fifth-place effort in the Czech Republic. He is No. 2 overall in the IAAF World Combined Events standings, trailing Cuba's Leonel Suarez. The leaders of the decathlon series will split a $200,000 purse.
Parsons clan continues excellence with titles in Prescott, Reno
Former Marana High School basketball standout Joseph Parsons has emerged as one of the leading cowboys on the pro rodeo circuit.
Late in June, Parsons won the Reno Rodeo, earning $8,155 in tie-down roping. It was his first major victory as a pro. Parsons then won the all-around cowboys championship last week at the World's Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, earning $5,768 for the week. It shoots his yearly total in tie-down roping to $30,561, which is No. 20 in the world. The top 16 qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in December.
The Prescott rodeo, which had a purse of $209,000, has been dominated by the Parsons family of Marana. Joseph's father, Joe, won the all-around championship there in 1986, 1988 and 1992. His uncle, Cutter Parsons, won the all-around title in 2007. Last week, Joseph and Joe won the team-roping title at the July 3 performance.
Tomey will join Cecil at HOF induction ceremony
Chuck Cecil will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame next weekend in South Bend, Ind. His former UA head coach, Dick Tomey, plans to join Cecil at the ceremony. … Flowing Wells grad Tara Erdmann, who finished No. 6 in the NCAA finals at 10,000 meters last month, has been selected to Team USA for the on-going North American-Central American-Caribbean championships near Orlando, Fla. She is the lone USA entrant at 5,000 meters. The senior-to-be at Loyola Marymount is teammates with UA senior Christina Rodgers, a 2010 All-American in the 800 meters. … When UTEP reports for its football fall training camp next month, Tucsonan Alex Solot, a starting offensive tackle, will have the highest profile of his career. The Oakland Raiders recently contacted Solot's former coaching staff at Rincon/University High School as it begins its research for the 2011 NFL draft. … Among those promoted in the UA athletic department restructuring is Erick Harper, who has essentially been the chief of staff for Mike Stoops' football operations. Harper is now an associate athletic director, becoming one of the first in his position nationally to gain such a title. Well-deserved.
Cienega grad Park joins Rarick in elite Open club
Cienega High School grad Sun Park shot rounds of 80 and 79 in the ongoing U.S. Women's Open. Not bad for someone who graduated from high school six weeks earlier. Park missed the cut, but had a hole-in-one at No. 6 on Friday. She joins Sahuaro's Cindy Rarick as the only Tucson-raised female golfers to play in the Open. Park will enroll at Yale next month. … In their first year of Class AA baseball, former UA outfielders T. J. Steele of CDO and Jon Gaston are struggling. "Growing pains," said Corpus Christi manager Wes Clements, a former UA All-American first baseman. "Both of them need some time here." A year ago at Class A, Gaston hit 35 homers. This year, he has four. Steele hit .345 last year at Class A. This year, he's hitting .228. … Steve Kerr's decision to leave his general manager's post with the Phoenix Suns is a win-win situation for him. He won't be blamed for the Suns' demise in the post-Amare Stoudemire years. And he'll have enough time to follow son Nick's senior basketball season at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, and daughter Maddy's sophomore basketball season. Both are college recruiting prospects. Kerr will work the Thursday night TNT doubleheader as the network's top NBA analyst, mostly on the West Coast. … After qualifying for the Canadian Tour, former UA All-Pac-10 golfer Brian Prouty of Salpointe Catholic broke his hand in an automobile accident in April. He finally returned to the Tour last week, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has earned $2,571 as he begins to make up for lost time.
Newest Busch assistant will help keep UA on top
Frank Busch's UA swimming program, among the top five nationally, continues to get stronger. Busch has hired assistant coach Whitney Hite to replace Greg Rhodenbaugh, the new head coach at Missouri. Before Washington eliminated its swimming program, Hite was the Huskies' head coach. He has also been on the staffs at Cal and Georgia and was an swimmer at Texas. Good hire. … Arizona's two-time NCAA high jump champion, Liz Patterson, who finished No. 2 at the USA Track and Field finals last month, has signed an endorsement deal with Asics and is now part of the European summer track circuit. Patterson will continue to train in Tucson for the 2012 London Olympics. … CDO grad Ian Kinsler was chosen to the American League All-Star team for the second time, triggering a $50,000 bonus. The Texas Rangers second baseman is being paid $4.2 million this year. With a little bit of luck, or more foresight, Kinsler might've been an Arizona Diamondback. He was drafted by the D-backs in 2000 and 2001 but both times chose school instead. Think they could use him? … Like many Tucson golf courses, the Golf Club of Vistoso has encountered some serious financial distress. It is a gem, surely among the Top 10 of Southern Arizona's 52 golf courses. Vistoso has been purchased by the IRI golf group, one that owns, among others, Arizona National and Forty Niner Country Club. Let's hope the IRI group can restore Vistoso to its former prominence. … New celebrity student at Arizona: incoming freshman Juliana Elway, daughter of No. 7, John Elway. She will not participate in UA athletics. Her brother, Jack, is a former non-letterman QB at Arizona State, who left the Sun Devil team a year ago.
My two cents
Ex-Badgers baseball star badly hurt in Afghanistan
Chris Moon was Southern Arizona's 2006 high school baseball player of the year while at Tucson High. He signed a letter of intent with Arizona's Andy Lopez but left the Wildcats a few days before the 2008 season.
Moon said he wanted to try something different than baseball. "Baseball isn't as fun as it used to be," he told the Star then. He enlisted in the Army.
Tragically, while serving in Afghanistan last week, Moon stepped on a roadside bomb and was critically injured. Both of his legs have been amputated.
According to his uncle, Chuck Moon, Chris is being treated in a military hospital in Germany, fighting to survive.
He is only 22 years old. If you believe in the power of prayer, Chris Moon can use yours today.