WKU's ?Toppers on Tour? Rolls On With Stops in Owensboro and Glasgow This Week

Western Kentucky University’s 2011 “Toppers on Tour” will cover over 1,000 total miles in making six stops over 14 days this June.  WKU fans are invited to meet, mingle and take pictures with head coaches and athletic department personnel at each stop. The events will feature WKU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork, head football coach Willie Taggart, head men’s basketball coach Ken McDonald, and Lady Topper basketball coach Mary Taylor Cowles as well as student athletes, cheerleaders, Topperettes and Big Red.

Bjork was named WKU’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics on March 12, 2010 and immediately created full time coaching positions for both men’s and women’s golf, implemented a strategic budgeting process, started a master facility plan, restructured several key administrative units, and created a new mission statement and core values to guide the athletics program.  His team also launched the Power of One membership campaign to accelerate growth for the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation and a new telemarketing program for ticket sales has also seen immediate success in new customers for WKU Athletics.  WKU Athletics also recently captured their 76th Sun Belt Conference championship since 1999-2000, a period in which 85% of the Hilltoppers’ student-athletes who fulfilled their eligibility have graduated.

Willie Taggart was named head football coach on November 23, 2009.  Each of Taggart’s first two recruiting classes has been named No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference by Rivals.com.  In his first season as head coach, he helped lead WKU to road wins at Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State and running back Bobby Rainey was named Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year after ranking third in the nation in rushing (137.4 yards per game/1,649 total rushing yards).    Rainey also led the nation in rushing attempts (340) and was named Honorable Mention All-American by SI.com, while Willie McNeal was named Freshman All-American as a kickoff returner.   A standout player at quarterback who set 11 school records for the Hilltoppers from 1995-98, Taggart is one of only four players in WKU’s 91-year football history to have his jersey retired.

Cowles will be entering her 10th season as the Lady Toppers’ head basketball coach, and is one of only three coaches in Sun Belt Conference history to be named coach of the year three times (2003, 2006, 2008).  Cowles has been a part of the Lady Topper program for 20 years: nine as head coach, seven as an assistant coach and four as a student-athlete and has been a part of 441 of the program’s 821 all-time wins.  She is one of 30 players voted to the all-time Lady Topper team, and was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2000.

McDonald will be entering his fourth season as head men’s basketball coach and has posted a 62-38 overall mark.  The only coach in the history of WKU basketball to win more than 62 games after his first three years is the legendary John Oldham (66 wins from 1965-67).  McDonald’s 62 wins include victories over Louisville, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Georgia.  WKU’s 33 wins in Sun Belt Conference play over the last three years are also more than any other league school.  In his inaugural season as a head coach in 2008-09, McDonald helped WKU claim the program’s 41st conference championship, the third most in NCAA history.  The Hilltoppers defeated No. 3 ranked Louisville 68-54 on November 30, 2008 and later knocked off Big Ten runner up Illinois 76-72 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

“TOPPERS ON TOUR” STOPS

 

Nashville area: Toppers on Tour will begin at 6 p.m. CDT June 1 at the Courtyard by Marriott at Opryland, 125 Music City Circle, Nashville.

 

Lexington area: Toppers on Tour and the Central Kentucky Alumni Chapter’s Summer Social will begin at 5 p.m. EDT June 4 at Good Ol’ Days BBQ Farm, 544 Old Frankfort Pike, Versailles.

 

Owensboro area: Toppers on Tour will begin at 6:00 p.m. CDT June 7 at the Courtyard Marriott at Owensboro, 3120 Highland Pointe Drive, Owensboro.

 

Glasgow area: Toppers on Tour will begin at 5:30 p.m. CDT June 9 at Colton’s Steakhouse & Grill, 206 North L. Rogers Wells Blvd., Glasgow.

 

Louisville area: Toppers on Tour will begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT June 13 at Heritage Hills Golf Club, 1050 Valley View Drive, Shepherdsville.

 

Elizabethtown area: Toppers on Tour will begin at 6:00 p.m. EDT June 14 at Freeman Lake Park, 140 Freeman Lake Park Road, Elizabethtown.

 

To register online or for information, visit www.alumni.wku.edu/toppersontour. For information, call the WKU Alumni Association at 270-745-4395 or e-mail alumni@wku.edu.