Lynn Hickey

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 conference.”

This year that conference is the Southland, next year the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), but as the college landscape is ever changing there is always the chance that another conference comes calling. For now, though, Hickey is content with the current situation.

“We are just happy to be a part of the WAC as of fall 2012,” Hickey said. “You don’t know from one hour to the next what will happen in conference realignment. There is nothing else on our horizon; we are focusing on 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 10,000.”

The ticket sales have been under the control of IMG World, a nationally known company in charge of getting University brands out to the public.

“What is important about that is that if you sell a large number of season tickets that helps you project what each crowd will be,” Hickey said. “IMG believes we can get 45,000. We are working hard to get a 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 3.0″

As the university gains more national exposure, the national media has begun to recognize the name UTSA, but there is still a few holdouts who continue to call it Texas-San Antonio.

“Our communications staff has worked diligently the last two or three years with the NCAA and ESPN to make sure that when the scoreboards run at the end, it says UTSA,” Hickey said. “More and more we are starting to see that, it’s [about] getting someone to change their culture, we will keep pushing [our mark].”

While the communications staff makes sure the name UTSA is known across the nation, Hickey keeps her attention on the new Park West athletic complex on Hausman Road. Since receiving $15 million from the city and county earlier this year, the first phase of the complex, new soccer and track stadiums, has continued to develop.

“We are in the design phase,” Hickey said. “We are trying to get final budgets and design changes out to the board of regents by Nov. 9. If we can meet that timeline and they approve, hopefully we can move dirt by 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 million.”

The McCombs gift is a start, but Hickey stressed the need for more money to make the football practice facility a reality.

“We need $3 million to build the practice facility with lights,” Hickey said. “That was his challenge, we need help with the other $2 million, but it was a major step for us.”

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