Things are looking up for WSU athletics

June 16, 2012 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — Returning to Washington State a little more than two years ago, Bill Moos knew he had his work cut out for him.

His task was elevating not just the fortunes and facilities of the athletic programs, particularly football, but also the enthusiasm among the school’s boosters.

Washington State University Athletic Director Bill Moos, left, talks with Jim Clifton center and Chris Monson, right at the A Night With Cougar Athletics event Friday, June 15, 2012 at the Harmon Center in Yakima.

Moos wasted little time making inroads towards those goals, and then got a huge boost with the Pac-12 Conference’s new 12-year, $3 billion television deal that kicks in this fall.

That allowed him to accelerate some projects — such as improvements to Martin Stadium — and eventually hire Mike Leach as the school’s new football coach.

Now there’s a level of energy and excitement Cougar fans haven’t shown in a while.

“This is a very exciting time,” Moos said prior to a gathering of WSU supporters at the Harman Center on Friday. “The fan base is energized.”

When Moos was hired in the spring of 2010, one of his first priorities was rousing an increasingly lethargic fan base.

“I felt I had to seize the moment at a critical juncture for the school if we didn’t want to get left in the dust,” Moos said. “There was apathy … but there was a sense of hope. People knew me and they saw what I did (as AD) at Oregon.

“I started to do things right away so people could see where we were going.”

But it wasn’t until the past year, with the promise of vast new revenue streams from conference expansion, new TV deals with ESPN and Fox, and the formation of the Pac-12 Network, that those efforts began paying off.

And one in particular, the hiring of Leach, has been the biggest catalyst to date. Landing Leach — which Moos admitted wouldn’t have been possible without the TV money — has fired up the fan base, with all the new suites and most high-end tickets at Martin Stadium selling out within 10 days of Leach’s hiring along with 3,000 new season tickets, while also elevating Washington State’s profile.

“We’ve got good morale, we’re getting good, quality athletes and we’re recognized on a national stage,” he said. “Things are better now than it’s ever been and it will get better — it has to.”

That spike in enthusiasm is not limited to the boosters.

“We all feel really lucky where the department is with this leadership,” said Lisa Hart, a Sunnyside native who is entering her 10th season as women’s tennis coach.

“The best thing about Bill is that he’s committed to helping all sports and making sure we get what we need,” Hart continued, adding that she’s been able to increase recruiting. “It’s the most exciting time to be at Washington State since I’ve been here.”

But having those revenues — $22-23 million annually, Moos estimated — is not a cure-all. WSU still needs to improve financial support from its boosters to complement that money, Moos said.

“I have to be careful investing that (TV) money to create new revenue streams,” he said. “I have to be able to cover some things (such as scholarship costs), otherwise I’ll have to use that TV money that we’d rather have go to improvements.”

So far, it seems, Moos and his staff have managed that, elevating the athletic department’s fortunes in the process.

“It’s been a good couple of years,” he said. “We’ve outlined the blueprint. Now, things are falling into place and there’s things to be excited about. But we cannot slow down and can’t rest on our laurels.”

Not likely with Bill Moos at the helm.

Filed under * WSU Cougars, All, Featured Stories


2 Responses to “Things are looking up for WSU athletics”
  1. Bob says:

    Well, I’m in Houston .. Have no connection to WSU, EXCEPT, Coach Leach! He’s docked his ship in Wazzu and we and thousands of his crew have sailed with him. We are now proud CAF members and are harressing u-verse for Pac12 coverage. What have we learned? The leadership at WSU exceeds all expectations, the people are smart and proud, and the Palouse is one of the most beautiful places in the world! KInda like, a perfect fit for the Captain … Arrrrrrrg!

    • Famous Duck says:

      Nice letter, good feelings/vibe. Good on you guys. All you Cougs deserve to get ‘out of the dawg house.’
      I don’t know what you did to get the ‘sanctions’ put on you but you’re now in the clear and I look for your return to football prominence. It will come.

      I look forward to our match-up at the Klink in Seattle. I’ve got my tickets and I hope the Amtrak will get to and from with little hassle. Best of luck to you in all your games.

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