Many people feel like their heads are spinning with all the changes in college sports. For me, more has happened in the last two years than the previous 20 years of my career around intercollegiate athletics.
Not only have all Pac-12 schools left the conference except WSU and Oregon State University, there’s conference realignment nationally, recent Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) changes to support our student-athletes, and new college sports transfer rules.
During this whirlwind, there are a few things I’d like to share with Cougar Nation.
First, it’s really important for WSU to chart its own path forward. While the current state of the Pac-12 conference was not a situation of our making, we refuse to let it define us.
We’ve moved forward with legal action and plans to secure our athletics future, with the assistance of an advisory committee I appointed.
We already know a few things. We are not going to spend the same amount of money on athletics that we have for the last decade. We will still be competitive, but it’ll be different than when we had the smallest athletic budget in a Power Five conference.
But I want to remind Coug fans that we’ll still have Division I athletics. We’ll still compete for championships and have football Saturdays. We’ll still show up every day on the court and in the classroom. The opponents will be different, and even if we don’t know the future of the Apple Cup, the resolute Cougar spirit hopefully will only grow stronger.
We will need people to continue to be supportive. And I don’t mean just financially; keep attending events and watch parties. I appreciate everybody who cheers on our excellent volleyball, soccer, football, baseball, and all teams. We shouldn’t stop just because we may be playing new schools.
Many of our alumni take pride in seeing our teams compete, succeed, and have a national presence. You may not be a huge sports fan but when you wear a Cougar shirt, you’ll get a “Go Cougs” from somebody. That Coug connection, and athletics, are part of our special college experience.
I think most would agree that intercollegiate athletics chasing dollars has become excessive. The problem is that it never stops. I’m not sure people really want college sports to become more professional.
It should be about the student-athletes representing Washington State University as they compete at an elite level both athletically and academically. They deserve our support. Top-flight collegiate athletics are central to the student experience at WSU. We will not let that change, even if our opponents change. Most importantly, we remain firmly committed to helping all our students graduate on time and ensuring that they have a great Cougar experience.
President, Washington State University