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Our Year(?) In Exile

Watching Xavier (and to a much lesser extent, Butler) leave for the Big East last season was tantamount to a twin watching his older, more prosperous brother go off into the real world while he stays behind, continuing to shovel steamy piles of runny animal shit off the permanently patchy grass of their family farm.

Will our paths ever cross again, the lesser twin wonders? Why have I been forsaken, left behind to grow old and inconsequential? Am I resigned to eternal copulation with horses, under the cover of the stables’ darkness, never to feel the caressing touch of a woman?

Well, if what our higher-ups have to say is true, perhaps not. And sooner rather than later.

The Alumni Leadership Conference was recently held, where all the bigwigs and other various muckety-mucks gather to discuss the future of the University in the basement of 1579 Brown Street.

A quick rundown from an esteemed alum in attendance:

I was in town and on campus for the Alumni Leadership Conference. They invite the Alumni Association Board, the people from the Development office (stationed around the country) and all the Chapter Presidents (hi) back to campus to talk about university improvements, the strategic plan for the association and crap like that. Is that what you meant?

It was a very interesting trip. Interesting not in the we-got-Dr.-Dan-to-go-to-Flanagan’s type way (though we totally did), but in that we heard from the horse’s mouth the deal on the new alcohol policy, the big push for new programs at the university, how they are attracting students and making UD affordable, as well as a ton of work that has been put in to bring the athletic department to a whole new level.

As you may know, UD has recently renovated most of its athletic facilities. New floor in UD Arena, new courts for tennis, lacrosse, field hockey, etc. They have also completely renovated the old PAC (now the Cronin Athletic Center) to house offices for Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Volleyball. Looks amazing. Practice facilities are now in that building, so the basketball teams actually practice on the old UD Arena floor that was just moved in. Large trophy cases for volleyball and women’s basketball and I’m assuming men’s basketball as well. A10 Championship trophies front and center. Honestly, it looked really, really good, and that’s from someone who used to have physical therapy in Frericks and see Brian Gregory walking recruits around those decrepit hallways.

Frericks is still there, and there are still offices in it, but they are working on refacing the inside of that building as well, and I assume they will make it look like the new center.

What I thought was really interesting was that instead of the usual UD way of just making renovations and not saying anything about it, was that we had someone from Outreach & Engagement (basically the department that runs the alumni association) say very clearly to us: if you want to have an event in NYC during the Atlantic 10 Tournament, we are trying to get a strong showing for the Flyers right under the nose of a certain other conference tournament in New York at the same time. This was at a luncheon where he was introducing Dr. Dan. Dr. Dan then stood up, basically seconded that sentiment, and then showed us a video that was still in draft mode that highlighted all the new renovations. All the chapter presidents just looked at each other afterwards thinking….that video looked a lot like an application for the Big East.

What I liked was this: it is clear as day to see that UD is serious about moving the university forward. Making huge improvements to housing, the business school, the library and athletics with equal force. And it is also clear this is coming from Dr. Dan’s office, which might be why things are actually starting to get done.

I spoke briefly with another enterprising young alum who relayed the following information:

“Sat w/ Dr. Dan and Timmy Wabs at lunch last Friday. They’re very confident we’ll be in Big East in 14/15.”

2014-15? That’s soon. (Puts down chili dog) OK, I’m interested.

“They said if the market watches college hoops like it always has and we show well at Barclay’s we’re in. Selling the most trips to Maui helps (UD currently accounts for 30% of the Maui trips sold thus far). They basically asked the chapter presidents and reunion chairs to push people to BK all year.”

So if I get a call from an Alumni representative, I should take the call and…maybe even consider attending some of the conference tournament games this March?

“That’s what they’re banking on, especially since our fans will stay for all the games. Wait until you see the new commercials, aimed at the Big East — basically a big ‘fuck you’ to them for picking one sport schools like Xavier and Creighton, who have smaller endowments and 10% of the corporate support.”

(Picks up chili dog, takes a satisfying bite) This is most riveting, riveting indeed.


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