Dr. Santa Ono Press Conference Quotes - Jan. 25, 2014

Jan. 25, 2014

UC Athletics Press Conference
Jan. 25, 2014
Richard E. Lindner Center

Outgoing Director of Athletics Whit Babcock

“I remember walking into this room very fondly in October 2011, and it is emotional again today and exciting but for a different reason. I really wanted to be here today to simply say thank you. I’ve seen a lot of staff members leave over the years, and everyone has a different way of doing it, but to walk out of this place without saying anything wouldn’t be right. I’ve truly enjoyed my time here, and everyone in the Cincinnati and UC community has been very supportive of me and my wonderful family since day one. I am grateful for that and always will be.

Things tend to happen very quickly in tendencies like these, and there are so many people I would have liked to visit with face-to-face to express my appreciation, but I couldn’t. So I hope this can serve in some small way as an expression of my gratitude to the Bearcat Family.

I need to by thanking Dr. Ono first. He was always ‘A+’ to me and did everything in his power to support me. He said whatever we need to do to have you here we will do, but it wasn’t about that. You all need to know that he was outstanding to me, and I owe him a ton. Our board of trustees was great, and they bought into our vision and supported it. There is truly great leadership at the top as is with our university administration, deans and faculty staff. I want to particularly thank those in the Lindner Center. Our One Team of coaches, staff and student-athletes. They bought into our vision and all of UC athletics was boosted higher because of their excellence. There is no way I would have the opportunity at Virginia Tech if it weren’t for them. Their performance here earned me the job there. I would also like to thank our student, fans, alumni and donors. All are first class, and mean a lot to our department. Thank you for investing your time, passion and resources into our programs. Also, thank you to the media. You all have been fair and so supportive. Thank you.

The ones truly closest to me know that it would have taken an unbelievably special and truly unique opportunity and situation for me to even consider leaving the University of Cincinnati, due to all the reasons and the special relationships I just mentioned. Virginia Tech was that one opportunity. A chance to go work at another top flight, first class university, but more than that, it is a chance to go home. It is a place I am very familiar with. I am a fifth-generation Virginian. I left Virginia in 1992, and I am now five states, a lot of jobs and 22 years later I can go home again. My mom, dad and sister all live within an hour or two, and the state of Virginia is in my blood. Cincinnati has taught me what home truly means. I have heard so many times that people grow up here, go to school here and are never leaving. Or I when I see people from Cincinnati that don’t live here anymore, and all they want to do is come back home. That civic pride is amazing and inspiring, and it is a part of what makes Cincinnati so special. I just hope the people of Cincinnati and the UC faithful can see this through a similar lens for me and my family today.

I won’t take any questions at the end because the focus should not be on me but the University of Cincinnati and their growth moving forward.

UC has been here for nearly 200 years, and it is bigger than any one of us. It is bigger than all of us. Ultimately, all of us at leadership positions at UC are in charge of being stewards of the university and moving it onward and upward during our time here. Hopefully, I have accomplished that during my tenure.

Lastly, the Bearcat Family should take great comfort in the leadership of Dr. Ono and Interim Athletics Director Desiree Reed-Francois. They also have a tremendous staff and coaches surrounding them here. They will not miss a beat in my absence. Good luck and go get ‘em.

In closing I leave you with this. Thank you, goodbye and go Bearcats.”

UC President Dr. Santa Ono
Opening Statement:

“First off, as many of you may already know, but Whit Babcock was much more than just a colleague to me. He was a really, really close friend. I actually wish Whit the best of luck at Virginia Tech along with his lovely wife and his kids. They are a really special family, and they have been a fabric of this city. I couldn’t be happier for him, and I know this is probably the only place that he would move to.

As for our partnership, we have done a lot over the past couple years, but with all that said, I am very optimistic about this university and the athletic department. It is in excellence hands, and we are very thankful to be able to turn to Desiree Reed-Francois to serve as Interim Athletics Director. She is absolutely fantastic. She has 20 years of experience in the collegiate and professional level. She has worked at UCLA, Tennessee and the Oakland Raiders. She joined us in March of 2013 as our number two in the athletics department as a Senior Administrator. She has had oversight of football, volleyball, women’s basketball as well as the marketing and communications departments. I have spoken with the coaches, and they speak highly of her. So we are truly thankful to have her take on leadership of the athletic department.”

UC Interim Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois
Opening Statement:

"President Ono thank you for your kind introduction. It is a privilege to be with you here, in Cincinnati, along with Josh my husband and our son Jackson. I am honored to formally accept the position as the Interim Director of Athletics at the University of Cincinnati. I want to thank our Student-Athletes for attending; members of our Department Staff, and our Coaches, including Coach Cronin, Coach Elliott and Coach Tuberville who are all about to travel to a game, play a game or have a huge recruiting weekend. I also would like to thank Whit.  We are all sad to him go but we appreciate everything he has done for this university in his tenure. And most special thanks to President Ono. President Ono, thank you for the faith and confidence in me. Above all else, I want what’s best for the University of Cincinnati and I promise you that I will work so hard to serve your office and this fine institution. I’ve learned in my time here that UC fans, students and alumni are passionate about athletics and I want to thank them and encourage them to continue this great support. This is a great university lead by a transformational leader in Dr. Santa Ono who is incredibly supportive of athletics. This is an athletic department that we all can and should be proud of.  We have an amazing group of student-athletes, staff and coaches, and we are in an exciting time in our Bearcat history. I’ve spent almost 20 years in this business and it is this foundation and the folks in this room will enable me to lead us during this transitional period. I make a three-fold pledge to all of you today:

"In 2014 we will continue our forward progress and pursue comprehensive excellence in all we do – all in support of the educational mission of the University. This is a dynamic time:  By adding back scholarships, I see our Olympic Sports programs coming into their own. We have a basketball program that has had three consecutive 20 win seasons and is the 15th ranked team in the nation and we need to continue supporting their success. We have National Signing Day coming on February 5. And an  $86 million Nippert Stadium Expansion and Renovation Project underway. I’ve spoken with President Ono and assured him that we will continue to operate our Department of Athletics in support of the University’s direction. In everything we do – we will plan for comprehensive excellence.

“My second pledge is that we will remain focused on the well-being of our Student-Athletes and their success – academically, athletically and socially. We will continue to operate with high standards and goals – in the classroom, in competition and in supporting the growth of leaders within our communities. I look forward to continuing our work with our Coaches and Staff ensuring that we are focused on the Student-Athlete’s well-being. We will continue proudly with Academic Achievement as our top priority. In turn, we will continue in a spirit of full compliance with all NCAA, Conference and University rules, regulations and standards. We will all represent the University with the highest degree of integrity

“And message number 3 is vitally important. It’s an exciting time to be a Bearcat.

“President Ono, those are my 3 messages

“To all of you, thank you very much for your time this day. I will start in this position with a great spirit and my full commitment. This is a very busy time, but I do look forward to seeing each and every one of you in the days ahead. Again, I am humbled, honored and grateful to be with you here today and I cannot wait to engage our team of 548 student-athletes, 150 staff, and nineteen teams and continue our forward progress. 

“To quote Coach Tuberville, 'Today is a great day to be a Bearcat!'”