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- April 19, 2013

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July 19, 2013

I spent much of this week in Park City, Utah, with Dutch Baughman, Executive Director of the 1A Athletic Directors' Association, and a handful of ADs discussing the state of intercollegiate athletics. It was an important and timely conversation. We covered a range of topics including, but not limited to: the NCAA governance structure, the collegiate athletics model, the O'Bannon case, the television and digital content landscape, and our guiding principles.

Everyone in attendance agreed that this is a critical time in our industry's history. College athletics is fractured; and athletics directors must actively participate in the process to create a healthy and sustainable model for the future. There will be a lot to cover when all of the ADs convene for our annual 1A Athletics Directors' meeting in September.

Speaking of September (or, in our case, August 30), the football season is fast approaching - only 42 days until kick-off! We have sold 1,400 new season tickets over the summer months. The Young Alumni section (sold out) and Varsity Club seating have been popular additions, but we still have work to do to fill Ford and show the nation how SMU does game day! Less than 5,000 tickets remain for the home opener against Texas Tech. Order your tickets today by clicking here.

And now, on to the mailbag and updates on the issues that are most important to you...

Right of the Fig (via Twitter): What will it take to get into the Big 12?

Answer: It appears that the conference landscape has stabilized for now. We are excited about our membership in The American and are focused on pursuing conference and national championships. If we graduate our students, operate with integrity and consistently compete for championships, our future will be bright!

Vince (via e-mail): Any chance we might have the City of Dallas painted at center court with a Mustang in the middle of the city?

Rob B. (via Twitter): Will you crowd source the court design like Memphis and UCF did?

Answer: I figured it was best to address these court-design questions together. First of all, we are pleased that there is so much interest in this project. We want to be creative and seek fan input as often as possible. In this particular case, the court design has already been submitted. We think it will represent SMU well and does include a reference to our location in Dallas, Texas. We will be sure to consider crowd sourcing and other inclusive approaches in the future.

Robert (via Twitter): When and where is this year's Kick-off Luncheon?

Answer: This year's Kick-off Luncheon is August 14 at the Hilton Anatole. More information can be found here. This was the first official SMU pubic event that I attended upon arriving on campus last August. The thing I most enjoy is hearing directly from our student-athletes. See you there!

Ty (Kouts, Ind.): Was it your goal to make basketball a priority with the hiring of Larry Brown and the renovation of Moody Coliseum? Do you have any idea of how many basketball games will be on ESPN and/or national television in general this season?

Answer: I arrived at SMU after the decisions to hire Coach Brown and renovate Moody Coliseum had been made. That said, there is no question that those investments and commitments signaled that our basketball programs were important to the university community. As I travel across the country, people are talking about Mustang basketball and the exciting changes to the university's physical plant. We are grateful to the university leaders and donors for their support of our programs.

As it relates to television coverage, all conference-controlled men's basketball games will be televised as per the new contract with ESPN/CBS. League-wide, more than 63% of the games are guaranteed to be carried via national or cable broadcast (a minimum of 107 games). The postseason tournament in Memphis will be on national television and the championship game will be on ABC or ESPN. Specific telecasts will be announced soon. Overall, our television partnerships will provide SMU with unprecedented visibility and exposure.

Please keep your questions coming. Your input is important to me. Remember, 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.

Until next week, Go Mustangs and Pony Up!

Rick Hart, Director of Athletics