UCF fans attend campus kickoff to hear about move to Big East
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 16:04
UCF's athletic program is getting excited about the upcoming 2012-2013 seasons and how
moving to the Big East conference in 2013-2014 will be a game changer for the Knights.
The UKNIGHT Tour: On-Campus Kickoff was held in the Recruiting Lounge of Brighthouse
Networks Stadium at 6 p.m. on Monday. The event was free and open to all fans by RSVP. The
lounge was filled with club members, donors, university staff members and coaches.
A resourceful way to pick their brains about the big move to the Big East, the program kicked off
with a chance for fans to chat with the coaches and their staff.
“This event was one of eight and was the most time consuming to plan,” Erin Taute, assistant
director of the Golden Knights Club, said.
A raffle was included in the planning to raise money for the athletic department. Raffle tickets,
including a trip to Columbus for the Ohio State game in September, were available for purchase
at the door.
The room was filled with what seemed to be hundreds of people. According to Taute, there were
200 who RSVP'd with expectations of at least 50 more people.
Mary Jane Burns, a season ticket holder for many of UCF's athletic programs, said she was
glad she could be a part of the event and was excited to hear plans for the future.
“I am anxious to hear about the new direction of the programs and to hear from the new athletic
director,” she said.
Once everyone had their fill of sandwiches and cake bites, fans took their seats to hear
coaches’ hopes for the upcoming seasons and entrance into the new conference. Marc Daniels,
voice of the Knights giving play-by-play commentary for football, basketball and baseball,
served as host for the evening.
He began with saying UCF has an 83 percent student athlete graduation rate and a total of
360,000 hours of community service performed by the athletes. Daniels continued speaking
about the importance of athletes being successful students, not just succeeding in their sport.
Although fans attended the tour kick-off to hear the coaches and members of the athletics staff
speak about the Big East conference, the recurring point from the coaches and staff themselves
was the fans’ support and appreciation.
Jeff Ulmer, assistant vice president of athletics development, said the athletics program needs
support from the fans and donors, especially for the Big East. It is important for the fans to show
their support by attending the games both on and off campus.
Those who took the podium included women's basketball coach Joy Williams, women's rowing
coach Becky Cramer, men's soccer coach Bryan Cunningham, women's soccer coach Amanda
Cromwell, baseball coach Terry Rooney, men's basketball coach Donnie Jones, head football
coach George O'Leary and new athletic director Todd Stansbury; all of whom expressed pride in both their players and their programs.
Coaches Jones and O'Leary explained their idea of academics and sports going hand-in-hand.
“Great student, great player, great combination” Jones said when explaining his recruiting
process, “we want the best of both worlds.”
O'Leary went on to explain the significance of fan attendance and how the change to the Big
East will be good for the fan base.
“We need to fill the stadium,” he said. “We need to become fans, not just supporters.”
New athletic director Todd Stansbury finished the event with explaining how moving to the Big
East conference will give the Knights our first real platform to show the nation who we are.
“We are one of the unknowns going in to the Big East, this is an opportunity to beat our chests.”