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April 26, 2013

It's Wear Red Friday here on the Hilltop! I hope you are donning some red in support of the Ponies today.

Five Presidents


It has been an historic week here in Dallas and at SMU. Yesterday we witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime event as all five living Presidents gathered to dedicate the Bush Presidential Center. The university enjoyed worldwide publicity as over 700 media outlets were on campus to promote the Center's opening.

Nothing I share here today will rival the excitement or impact of this unprecedented partnership between the Bush Center and SMU; however, I will attempt to provide some insight into our program and answer another round of questions from Mustang Nation.

The best part of my job is getting to interact with our student-athletes. Earlier this week, I presented The SMU Advantage to our Student-Athlete Advisory Council, a group consisting of representatives from each of our 17 sports. They are a conduit to the student-athlete population as a whole and provide us with a forum to exchange ideas, coordinate activities and gather input.

Spending time with this collection of talented young men and women serves as a reminder that the overwhelming majority of our student-athletes are doing an incredible job of successfully balancing their academic, athletic and social responsibilities. They are an inspiration; and you should all be proud of the way they represent themselves, our department and the university.

There is no greater reward than witnessing our student-athletes mature into adulthood. While I hope we play a small role in their development and success outside of the classroom, it would not be possible to provide them with this experience without the participation and support of the community. On behalf of our 398 student-athletes, thank you for all that you do!

And now, to the mailbag...

Bill (Hartford, CT): The Perkins Natatorium has been obsolete for at least 25 years. Nevertheless, our swimming program has been competitive and sent Mustangs to the Olympics. With a modern pool, our teams could compete for National Championships annually. What are our facility and fundraising plans for a new swimming facility?

Answer: I really do hope that we are able to provide our world-class swimming programs with an upgraded facility in the not-too-distant future. A new natatorium is included as part of the campus master plan; however, we currently lack the funding to trigger such a project. Our efforts to identify potential donors and funding sources will continue.

Sawnie (Riverside, CT): Will SMU have a D1 Lacrosse program in the near future?

Answer: Lacrosse is a great sport; and it is growing here in Dallas. As I shared last week, our focus at this time is to provide resources to our existing 17 sports. Should we arrive at a point where they are all positioned to pursue comprehensive excellence, and our program is self-sufficient, we will explore sport additions.

Austin (Dallas): What is the status of an indoor practice facility for the football team? Texas Tech (who are in the planning stages of building one) and Rice are the only other major football programs in Texas not to have one...

Answer: We are fortunate to have a supportive alumni and fan base. Their generosity has allowed us to upgrade and expand many athletics facilities over the last decade. Right now, we have several projects in various stages of development including Moody Coliseum, the Tennis Complex and Phase II at the DAC. We are optimistic about the Golf Complex at Trinity Forrest and the possibility of a new natatorium (mentioned in my previous response). Additionally, we have identified other needs outside of brick-and-mortar facilities, which require private funding. So, an indoor performance center remains in our plans - and we have completed a feasibility study regarding locations and space reassignments. I anticipate that our focus on this project will intensify once we meet our existing commitments.


If you have a question or concern, contact me through this form, or email us at smumustangs@smu.edu. You can also reach me on Twitter at @AD_RickHart.

Thanks to all and Pony Up!