Academia to Athletics

Smurf Turf:
Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - 5:06pm

Amidst the new merger/affiliation talk, what's in store for CEU as we know it? What is happening?

First, a personal note. I am leaving Price. In the next few weeks, I'll pack my bags to serve an LDS Church mission in Morristown, NJ, just a stone's heave from NYC. It's a Spanish-speaking mission, from what I've heard, poor and gang-ridden, and I'm feeling quite the mixture of emotions. I'm sure I'll be back at CEU , but the real question is, will CEU be the same place in two years?

As I am wrinting this, I have a press release on my desk in the newspaper room stating that the Board of Regents are bringing up the "M," talk again: merger.

No, this isn't NBC's "The Office," this is the real world, not some scripted Hollywood show. Utah's system of higher education is substituting the word "affiliation" instead of "merger," but we understand what's at stake here: CEU as we know it. This time around, it looks as though CEU will be pitted against not only Utah State in the merger, but Snow College as well. Historically, merging two schools usually ends up pairing a four-year school with a two-year school, but this time, it may mean pairing a two-year school with another.

The press release states athletics will be safe, so let's take that at face value. The bigger question remains. What will CEU look like?

Will the Utah State Legislature clean house? Sponsor a fire-sale? Will I come back to any familiar faces?

I hope the familiar faces will be here. CEU has a great faculty and staff. If it ain't broke, as the saying goes, don't merge it.

The real answer to my question is that nobody knows. But there must be a reason beyond talking about the weather that former CEU President Mike Petersen is starting his rounds of interviews of students, faculty, staff and community members. Don't be surprised someday in the near future if CEU becomes Utah State University – Price. Get used to saying, "USUP." Kind of rolls off the tongue.

Merging colleges has been tried before. The whole public college system in California is modeled that way. UC-Berkely. UC-Davis. UC-Riverside. And the most famous of all the California public schools, UCLA, plus a bunch of others. It's been done in smaller states, such as Montana, where Eastern Montana College became Montana State University – Billings.

We can all be smart about this, by taking small steps and thinking outside of the box. CEU can't control the economy, but what we can do is take away the "economy excuse" and thrive. Currently, many schools are thriving in this economy, especially community

colleges. Take a look at the April 6 edition of USA Today, which features the phenomena of small, public schools bucking economic trends.

How are they doing it? By cutting the fat, the crutches they lean on, the extra things they don't need. It comes back to the simple business technique of taking something that costs 60 cents and squeezing a nickel out of that to bring the price to 55 cents. Re-thinking and saving here and there will help us in the long run.

I met with Commissioner Siderburg, former President Peterson and interim President Mike King. During the meeting, Commissioner Siderburg kept referring to an affiliation/merger he had experienced in Michigan. The merger worked, he said, but both schools were vastly different. One was an art school, the other was a technical school.

What worked in Michigan may not work in Utah. I'm unsure just what Snow would bring to the deal. Yes, CEU would benefit in some ways with Utah State as a strong partner, but it also might make CEU a farm team for the Aggies.

Remember, it was only five months ago that this issue was addressed and the conclusion was that it was not a good plan for "the immediate future." What has changed in five months?

Okay, that's the academic side of it, and a bit of business mixed in. Let's talk now about sports.

The future of CEU athletics is bright. Our men's basketball team got second in a very tough conference and defeated the eventual national champs more than once this year.

Actually, change a few questionable calls, and maybe two more baskets go our way, and CEU might be waving a national championship banner. Sure this year's strong core will be gone, but the best kept secret is about to come out. We have Vander Joaquim, a mid-year transfer who originally signed with Nebraska, as a Golden Eagle. Vander was a top 100 recruit by and And the basketball coaches are excellent recruiters, so they'll bring in some other players who can run up and down the court with Young Mr. Joaquim.

Our volleyball coach has two top Brazilian national players coming to Carbon County next year. Baseball has pulled in its best talent since Coach Madsen took over ten years ago, including the imminent signing of some top players in the region. CEU's women s basketball team returns a formidable core of players from last year's squad. In 2011, CEU could easily snag a national championship and several conference titles. The outlook is that bright.

CEU needs to take care of its athletic legacy. For example, what about celebrating our past championships? Upstairs in the newspaper room there are two bookcases full of national trophies earned by the CEU cheerleaders. (Okay, some of you will argue that cheerleading is not a sport, but it is part of the school's athletic heritage, so I'm going to skip right over your protests.) The trophies need to be displayed. With pride.

What about the expansion of CEU's BDAC? It has been in the master plan for decades now, but lacks funding. If $480,000 can be raised in 11 months for the Dino-Park , I am 100% sure we can get some money around for an indoor facility/expansion of the BDAC. Across the nation both small colleges and community colleges are partnering up with local high schools to help fund new facilities. It saves money, and benefits more people. Carbon High School, anyone?

Okay, on to the last topic. It's been a great year here for me. My parents were skeptical about me attending college in Price, Utah, but I can't imagine a better fit. And some of you deserve a big "thanks" for helping me out. And I know that many students can say the same thing. So here's a tip of my baseball cap to Terry Johnson, the beast, who always made me feel more than just another student. Snow College has three Ambassador advisers. We have Terry. And he probably gets more done than all of them. And a thanks to Ron Vogel, who, in a chance meeting with my dad in Provo, pushed me a little farther along the road to Price.

I also want to thank Coach Scott Madsen. I had a string of nightmare experiences with small-minded high school coaches/athletic directors who thought they were all ready to manage the New York Yankees or be the AD at Notre Dame. Coach Madsen gave me a chance. That is all I wanted.

And there are many others who I should give a shout to, but I'm already way over on my word count. So to good friends (Devin Bybee,Brad Brinkerhoff,Mike Gingell & my teammates), good roommates (DrewSuf/Gusty Windy Boy,Brandt-a-lant,Unze,Kam-a-roon,E-stephen) good teachers(Icards,Frank Ori,Susan Polster, Susan Polster again, Ms. Nelson and Katie Jo for math help) and administrators ( Todd Olsen, Terry Johnson, Dean Alex Herzog ), you have my thanks. You all have taught me beyond what I could learn from books.

Well, CEU, Utah State University-Price, College of Eastern Snow College, or whatever it will be in a few years, I thank you for reading my articles and giving me a shot to have fun and be myself.

See you in '011, kids. Or shall I say, "Nos vemos en unos cuantos anos."

Best of luck to you all.

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