Dr. Wood Selig Responds!

Dec. 6, 2000

Q: "As a proud graduate of WKU in 1972 and a follower of all Western sports through the years, I have always been proud of the teams in Red and White who have represented Western Kentucky University. However, I am confused. Lately , when I watch or see pictures of Western athletes in action, I feel as though I am watching the University of Lousville since the colors are red and black! WKU colors are red and white - where did all the black come from?" - question submitted by Ken Johnson, Bowling Green, Ky.

Dr. Selig:
"Our colors are still red and white, some teams use gray or black as a highlight. We do not have any all black uniforms so you will not be watching the Louisville Cardinals. We are undergoing a complete review of our official logos, colors, and other athletic licensing design issues. We should have a new set of marks for our teams and fans that can be encorporated on uniforms, playing fields and floors, stationary, soft goods, merchandise, etc. We have been working on this for about nine months and hope to finish this spring. I think everyone will like the new and enhanced looks and attention to color that we will offer by next athletic season. Thanks for your continued support and interest in Hilltopper athletics."

Q: "I applaud Dr. Selig's efforts to make WKU athletics self-supporting. However, I'd like for him to explain the logic of cutting golf and tennis programs to help pay for I-AA football when the football program refuses to play Eastern Kentucky and Murray State, which historically have been the two best money games each year." - question submitted by Bruce A. Smith, Frankfort, Ky.

Dr. Selig:
"Thank you for your question. The athletic department was given a directive by the Board of Regents as a result of their Oct. 27, 2000 meeting (and subsequent vote to increase student fees for athletics) to devise a plan to reduce expenses and operate with fiscal integrity. We have posted three consecutive years of deficit spending, highlighted by last year's $500,000 deficit.

We recently cut two administrative positions saving about $60,000 per year. We have also increased our fundraising and sponsorship efforts highlighted by a recent $3 million gift to football and new radio and television networks. However, to significantly cut into our annual overage, the only scenario that would allow any substantial reduction of expenses would be an elimination of sports. While we were not excited about such a strategy, we felt we must adhere to the wishes and requests of the Board of Regents.

The proposed elimination of programs never was intended, as you say, to help pay for I-AA football. We determined that should we be forced to reduce our programming offerings, that cutting men's tennis and golf would help us eliminate 25% of last year's deficit. A variety of factors were considered that helped us determine how those two sports were considered for elimination.

Those factors included competitiveness over the past years, specific program budget comparisons with our fellow conference member institutions, full-time versus part-time head coach, revenue potential, academic performance of our participating student-athletes, and local interest and support.

The vote by the Board to not eliminate sports was great news for all of our athletic programs. It was a vote of confidence that we could live within our means through the increased resources from athletic fees, donations, ticket sales, guarantee games, and corporate sponsorships. We will have more mouths to feed but we are happy to do so and have the understanding and support of our head coaches.

Your final statement referred to our refusal to play Eastern and Murray which simply is not true. We value the rivalries and the revenue generation opportunities that each of those games represent, and when our schedule allows, we will be attempting to get them back on our schedule, should they so desire.

Thanks for your support of WKU athletics."

Q: "As a class of 1980 alum, I'm curious: Why risk losing the best football coach since Jimmy Feix by not offering a contract extension ASAP? You see how schools such as Florida, Oregon State and Louisville have shown their appreciation, often before the season is over. And, if any coach on that hill has the same, it's Jack Harbaugh." - question submitted by Gary Moore, Los Angeles, Calif.

Dr. Selig:
"Thanks for your question. I could not agree with you more. Coach Harbaugh has been a tremendous asset for WKU football and this community. What a great year this was for all of our fans and followers. We will do everything we can to see if we can extend Jack's contract and keep him here for as long as he wants to be a Hilltopper. Considering the extended season we just had, there simply has been no time for us to properly sit down and discuss his situation here at Western. We fully intend to do that in the months ahead. Thanks for your interest in and support of WKU athletics."