It has been quite a year for UTSA Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey. It began with five teams bringing conference championships to the hills of Oak and Cedar. The historic year will continue in a few weeks when the Roadrunners take the football field for the first time. As a new school year begins, Hickey is ready to face the higher expectations.
“Every year you go in with the expectation of wanting to win a championship,” Hickey said. “We have 17 sports and each team has to sit down and set realistic goals, but every year we go in with really high expectations to compete at the highest level of the WAC.”
The move to the WAC will occur in the second year of football, but for now Hickey is getting ready for the first game. That means selling tickets.
“We are right at 10,000 season tickets sold, which was our goal from the beginning,” Hickey said. “To give some context to that, Houston last year sold 7200 tickets; we haven’t played a down and we have sold 10,sellout.”
While attention has been on the birth of football, the academic side has been equally important in light of a report from ESPN on the NCAA’s APR rating for schools that decides eligibility for postseason tournaments and bowls.
The NCAA approved a plan that if a school’s four-year APR rating fell below 900, that school would be ineligible. The UTSA number last year was 885, meaning the historic tournament run by the men’s basketball team, last season, would never have happened.
“That is a four year average and last year was the last year, so that’s off,” Hickey said. “We will be fine.
The APR is an indication of graduation rate, a 930 is about 50 percent. It doesn’t take into account players leaving early for professional leagues or other circumstances. For Hickey there is only the work of making sure the Roadrunners are just as successful in the classroom as on the field.
“We are continuing to beef up our academics,” Hickey said. “Last year our 17 sports had a cumulative GPA of March.”
Another part of the new Park West will be a practice facility for football so that the program can graduate from Northside ISD’s stadium. The university received a $1 million gift from businessman B.J. “Red” McCombs to get the process of building a practice facility going.
“What a better way to start the day than for the number one business leader in San Antonio to lead cheers and challenge everyone to fill the dome. He bought 1000 tickets and 1000 shirts that say ‘fill ‘er up,'” Hickey said. “That was in addition to offering a gift of $1 us.”