Comments from Chancellor Wiley
Thanks to all of you for coming.
I'd like to start by personally and publicly thanking Pat. Thanking him for bringing this athletic department from what Donna Shalala used to characterize as a 'Mom and Pop' operation and literally one that was bankrupt at the time to a thriving, $50 million a year athletic department that is equal to the finest anywhere in the world. We owe that to Pat and it's a remarkable accomplishment. We've provided you with handouts with just a staggering list of Pat's accomplishments both as a student-athlete and as Athletic Director. I don't propose to run down those. When you ask Pat what he thought his most lasting accomplishment would turn out to have been, he characteristically demurred a little bit. I'll tell you what I think it is; Pat will be remembered as a builder of this department. He built the right management team to get the fiscal situation turned around and straightened out. He chose the right coaches to build competitive programs across the board, not every year in every sport, but consistently. He made sure that the coaches he chose always kept their eye on the student part of the student-athlete equation and we thank him for that. He built the confidence and support of our fans and alumni all over the country and has literally been a builder in building these facilities-the University Ridge golf course, the crew house, the baseball diamond, the Kohl Center which we are sitting in today, and most recently he has launched the process for rebuilding Camp Randall Stadium which is obviously critical for the future of the department. So we all thank Pat for putting this department on such a positive trajectory for the next hand-off.
Secondly, I would like to thank Pat for giving us a year or so to organize and manage that hand-off. These are very tough times for the university in a lot of respects. At least the next two years will be tough, possibly longer, and I think it's going to generate a great deal of apprehension and uncertainty. In that environment, three of the most important commodities will be stability, continuity and certainty. These are things that I believe are going to be in very short supply in much of the university and they're always vital in any organization that wants to plan its future. Some parts of the university are clearly going to have too little of these. Pat has made it possible for athletics to have all three. In many respects, as some of you noted or implied in your questions, it might have been easier for Pat to wait and make this announcement a little bit closer to the time that he is actually going to step down. But he chose to do it now and I think this is another great gift to the university.
We've done a lot of thinking and planning about the future of the university and decided there is no reason to wait and have the department and all of you in suspense or uncertainty about how this hand-off will be accomplished. We have just the right person in the university to take the reins and build on Pat's legacy, take this department to the next level and I would like to ask Barry Alvarez to come forward. Barry will be our next Athletic Director. While Barry is coming up here, let me just say that I know he has a few words to share and I will ask him to do that, but I would like to be clear about this, and Pat and I are in complete agreement about this. Barry is the right person to take on this job at this time.
First of all, I have known for many years that he had the kind of interest and passion that would allow him to do both of these jobs well. I can assure you of two things: Barry is never going to underestimate the challenge of leading a successful football program in the Big Ten and on the national scale and neither Barry nor I will underestimate the rigorous challenges of being Athletic Director. We have done our homework and simply put, Barry has the right stuff.
Secondly, this is a time of significant financial challenge, not only for the country and state, but for the university and the athletic department and that challenge can only be met through forceful and creative leadership and the determination required to implement the necessary change. Again, I believe Barry understands the nature of the challenge. He has already demonstrated to me the commitment and creativity necessary to meet it and he provides a known, viable option for moving forward that I feel makes perfect sense at this time. Obviously there is a lot more that I can say and later Barry and I will both have more to say, but I will ask him to make a few comments at this point.