The volunteer period of the Ram Club fundraising drive – which went from early April to June 30 – concluded successfully Thursday. As of the deadline, nearly 2,100 members donated a total of $1.607 million in cash and gifts. The mark was well ahead of figures last year at this time, when less than 2,000 members had donated around $1.5 million. The good news for CSU is that 272 new people joined the Ram Club this year. The bad news is that more than 400 members from last year have yet to renew. The drive officially closes in October, and Colorado State officials believe they will ultimately reach the $1.7 million goal. They plan to contact former Ram Club members several times over the next two months to encourage their renewal.
TCU’s move to the Mountain West Conference became official Friday, rejoining eight former conference mates who belonged to the ill-conceived 16-team Western Athletic Conference up until 1998. According to brand-new TCU athletic directory Danny Morrison who took over for Eric Hyman who took the same job at South Carolina last month, the MWC is a welcome change from Conference USA. "(It) is a terrific move for TCU," Morrison told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It brings regional and national visibility. In a short time, the MWC has positioned itself on the doorstep of the BCS. And I think it brings some stability." TCU is one of six teams to leave CUSA this year, along with Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida and Army. Joining CUSA are SMU, Rice, UTEP, Tulsa, Marshall and Central Florida.
The MWC’s addition of TCU will create two extra conference games (for a total of 16) for both men’s and women’s basketball. It also caused conference officials to change the way they structure the league basketball schedules. The conference has eliminated travel partners (for the most part) and there will be several individual road game swings instead of two-game swings. For instance, San Diego State’s schedule shows that six of its eight league road games will be on a single-trip basis, and that only the final regular-season trip – to BYU and New Mexico – will keep the Aztecs away from home for more than a few days. In addition to the logistical changes that TCU brings, the collective desires of MWC presidents, athletic directors and coaches to leave ESPN’s Big Monday has thus forged a more common Wednesday-Saturday rotation, instead of Saturday-Monday.
The MWC, meanwhile, released the official men’s basketball schedules to each member institution last week, but it’s up to those institutions to announce their own schedules. Several conference foes have publicly announced their 2005-06 slates, but CSU is holding off until head coach Dale Layer finalizes several more non-conference contracts. Some of CSU’s key opponent dates are known, however. The Rams host Colorado November 21, Auburn November 28 and Pepperdine December 10. Key road dates include Denver University November 26 at the Pepsi Center in Denver (as part of a double-header with CU and St. Mary’s), at Kansas State December 7 and a trip to Honolulu for the Hawaii Rainbow Classic December 20-23. CSU’s side of the Rainbow Classic bracket includes Hawaii, Loyola Marymount and Western Michigan. Other participants include Iowa State, Oregon State, Northwestern State of Louisiana and South Florida. Dates are known for four conference opponent matchups: San Diego State (away January 4, home February 4), New Mexico (away January 7, home February 9), UNLV (away January 18, home February 18) and Utah (home January 17, away February 12).
Interestingly, Utah continues its recent series with CU December 7 at the Coors Event Center in Boulder. The Utes took both of the previous games, winning 77-57 in December of 2003 in Boulder and 80-48 last December in Salt Lake City.
CSU’s Matt Nelson has been in discussions with several NBA teams to participate in summer league ball, but ultimately is likely ticketed for Europe.
The Colorado high school Western Slope Conference's offensive player of the year, running back Clayton Peetz, said he plans to walk on at CSU. Peetz was Class 2A’s second-leading rusher for Basalt High School last season until a shoulder injury knocked him out of the lineup for two games and hampered him the rest of his season. The 2A All-State selection recently participated in the All-State game at cornerback—a position he had never played before. He is considering taking the fall off from football to concentrate on school, but plans to walk on in the spring.
The University of New Mexico has employed an interesting “executive bonus plan” for athletic director Rudy Davalos. He’ll receive a salary increase of 3.75 percent to $152,948 with an incentive bonus of one month's salary if the men's or women's basketball team wins the MWC championship or tournament championship or if either is selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament. An additional $25,000 will be given if either basketball team participates in the NCAA Tournament and the football team participates in a bowl game in the same academic year.
In case you missed it two weeks ago, the MWC had two participants in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. UNLV’s Ryan Moore was one of seven amateur collegians in the field, and one of just two to make the cut. He finished 75-73-75-73 -- 296 (+16). Spencer Levin, a 2005 New Mexico graduate, turned pro before the event. He posted a three-over 73 in the first round of play but shot a 77 on Day 2 and missed the cut. CSU’s John Hayes, who graduated in May, traveled to Pinehurst for the tournament as a first alternate, but wasn’t fortunate enough to have a spot open up.
Each year the NCAA randomly tests at least 18 football players and eight other athletes at all Division I schools for five categories of illegal drugs, including steroids. Because NCAA testing is considered by some to be minimal or easy to evade, upwards of 90 percent of Division I schools, including most of the MWC schools, conduct voluntary supplemental testing. The two that don’t? Air Force and Colorado State. Air Force has an academy-wide testing program, but it is not run through the athletic department. CSU says it doesn't do its own testing because state law discourages it.
Former CSU women’s basketball assistant Jeff Dow, who left the Rams program along with former head coach Chris Denker in April, has been named head coach of the women’s team at Division II Anderson College in South Carolina. Dow spent three years in Fort Collins under Denker.
Former Colorado State women’s basketball player Misty Murphy, who most recently served as head coach at Colorado State-Pueblo, has been hired as an assistant at Rice by new Owls coach Greg Williams. Murphy played for and coached alongside Williams during his tenure at CSU from 1990-96.
Former CSU athletics administrator Chuck Bell (1987-92) is one of the leading candidates to take over as athletic director at Delaware State University. Aside from his five years as associate athletic director and one year as interim AD at CSU, Bell served as athletic director at San Jose State for six years and at Utah State for five years. If hired, he would become the first white athletic director at the historically black college.
The new RamNation.com is now more than a week old. You’ll continue to see some tweaks, changes, and additions as time goes by. Much of our efforts over the past week-plus have been devoted to learning the new system and dealing with behind-the-scenes work. Soon, you’ll be seeing much more original content, including an upcoming in-depth feature story on the progress of Hughes Stadium and the annual RamNation Awards and Rankings. By popular demand, we’ve reincorporated the countdown clock on the homepage to let you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes and seconds you have ‘til the 2005 CSU football season. We’re also working on several other features that will enhance the site, including recruiting bio pages, a new recruiting database that allows searching, and many feature stories and Q&As. So, stay tuned.