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2012 goals include strength in sports

March 21, 2003

By Hannah Lodwick

Baylor has the eighth-ranked baseball team in the nation, and the women's tennis team remains undefeated in conference matches. Imperative 10 in Baylor 2012 aims to spread that success to all athletic programs, committing to 'build with integrity a winning athletic tradition in all sports.'

Scott Stricklin, assistant athletic director of communications, publicity and programs, said the goal plays an important part in Baylor reaching Tier One status.

'Athletics is such a large window to reach people through,' Stricklin said. 'It might not be the absolute best way, but it is a good opportunity to reach a lot of people.'

One aspect of Imperative 10 involves studying the feasibility of moving the track and field and football facilities back on campus. While that may take some time, construction of facilities for other athletic teams already has happened.

'Seven years ago we didn't have the baseball stadium, the tennis courts or the law school,' Athletic Director Tom Stanton said. 'What we hope to accomplish is consistent programs that have the ability to compete on a national level. That helps in a continual quest for improvement and excellence in athletics.'

Stanton said Baylor recently placed 43rd in the Sears Directors' Cup standings, a national ranking compiled from points earned by sending teams to NCAA tournaments. Imperative 10 mentions attaining a spot in the top 25.

Additions to the coaching staff also will help to improve Baylor's athletic tradition. New hires include football head Coach Guy Morriss and soccer head Coach George Van Linder. Van Linder said the enthusiasm from Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. on down has fueled his excitement for coaching at Baylor.

'Competing in the Big 12 against some of the best coaches in the country was an unbelievable opportunity,' Van Linder said in an interview on Baylor's athletics Web site. 'Baylor is serious about winning a Big 12 championship in soccer, and everything so far has backed that attitude.'

Besides quality coaching, Stanton said the athletes themselves play a part in establishing a winning tradition. When recruiting talented athletes, Stanton promotes retaining individuals of quality character as well.

'Baylor is not for everyone,' Stanton said. 'We strongly believe that there are outstanding women and men who want to get a college degree and also participate in an outstanding intercollegiate conference. I tell recruits that Baylor offers a three-pronged program: there is the physical component, the aspect of values and the academic leg.'

Cody Wells, a Crawford freshman, said that attitude attracted him to Baylor. As a member of the track team, he said addressing Baylor's athletics in the competitive Big 12 conference plays an important role in improving the university.

'I was really impressed with the quality of coaches and the Christian atmosphere,' Wells said. 'Before practice the guys got in a circle and prayed. I didn't think I could find that anywhere else.'

In accordance with Baylor's goal of integrating student athletes into student life, Stanton said students serve as an important support to athletic programs. He cited Baylor marketing efforts, support from Greek groups, service projects with Habitat for Humanity and other community programs as recent events that exposed student athletes to student life.

'From an athletic perspective, you're most successful if student athletes feel part of the student body and if the student body is energized and supportive of student athletes,' Stanton said. 'In order to be successful, you have to coordinate the two. Student athletes are not an exclusive group of students.'

Like other the other imperatives, Imperative X incorporates Baylor's holistic approach in its goal.

'Student athletes need to know there's more to life than just sports,' Stanton said. 'After they receive their degree, we want them to be able to make a significant contribution to the community.'