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From the Desk of Athletics Director, Chip Smith:

Aug. 13, 2007

Catamount Fans,

I hope everyone has had a good summer and some time to relax. We have been busy at Catamount Athletics and its time to pick up the pace even more.

You will soon receive the latest edition of the "Cat's Paws" from the Catamount Club. Within its pages, you will find information on a variety of events that have taken place over the past few months. We have had a lot of good things going on and hope you will enjoy reading about them.

The most significant, both strategically and fundamentally, have been the actions of the Football Task Force. This group was hard at work during the spring and summer, and presented their findings recently. More information and links to the report can be found on the Web by clicking HERE.

As you may know, the committee was formed last spring and given the task of providing recommendations as to how to have a successful football program both on and off the field. Their response is reasoned, concise and certainly within our capabilities. It provides suggestions that affect several different aspects of college football. In some areas, changes are needed; in others, we will look at improving on what is already being done.

There are many things we are doing well already. While I was correctly quoted in the press as saying, "This program is headed in the right direction." The article did not, however, continue the statement that, last semester, the football team had its best academic showing ever, or that athletic fundraising had an excellent year. We are doing things well; we need to include results on the field in that list.

Most importantly, the report shows us that we can have a winning football program at WCU without a huge influx of money. There are financial issues that are already being addressed and others that we will work to resolve over the next two to three years. The timeliness with which we will meet these monetary needs, however, will help determine the pace at which football will improve. This effort must be all-encompassing. Within the athletic department, we are constantly looking for new and increased streams of revenues, from concessions sales to corporate partner sponsorships. Ticket sales, especially for football and men's and women's basketball, are crucial to our budget. As student enrollment rises, and current projections are very good, that portion of our finances will improve. Private donations are extremely crucial to this effort.

This is the first step. We have fallen behind our competitors and they aren't slowing down to let us catch up. This season will be challenging on the field. Many of the actions we are taking now will begin to take effect later this season, next year and beyond. One of the biggest changes we can make now is attitude, outlook and actions. I have spoken with the football team, both student-athletes and coaches, about what we are doing and where it will lead. They must be committed to the fight, and I believe they are. That commitment must be made by all of us.

It is normal in such a situation to have a "wait and see" attitude. "When you do better, I'll do more" would be an understandable position. There are many, many people who care deeply about Western Carolina University, the football program and all Catamount Athletics.

We need you to show that support now. Be as committed to Catamount Football as were the committee members who developed a plan for success and as are those of us who will put that plan into action.

Show your commitment in your actions. Buy tickets and encourage others to do so. Join the Catamount Club or increase your donation. Get other people to join as well. We can and will build a winning program. How you respond, right now, to this challenge will make a statement about how important that is to you.

Thank you for your support and


Chip Smith
Director of Athletics