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UL athletics moving forward

UL athletics moving forward

UL athletics moving forward

Walker says plan is in place to enhance athletics

UL athletic director David Walker is convinced that the Ragin’ Cajun football program can be successful, and in the not-too-distant future.

But he’s equally convinced that success can be enhanced with the right marketing and the right funding, and he’s planning steps to make sure his department does its part in those areas.


Walker released a statement two days after the Cajuns completed a 3-9 season with a last-minute home loss to UL Monroe, affirming the school’s commitment to head coach Rickey Bustle and his staff.

"It was my idea," Walker said of the statement. "There was speculation out there over whether Rickey would return, and we wanted to send the message that the foundation they’ve laid will allow us to be successful on a continuing basis."

"It means a lot to have their backing," said Bustle, whose current contract runs through Jan. 31, 2011. "We think we’ve brought a lot more expectation to this program, and I’m excited they feel like we’re the ones that can get that done."

Walker said the athletic department is in the planning stages of two programs that will help with visibility and financial struggles, both for the overall athletic program and the football squad in particular.

The marketing program will include an aggressive ticket drive, but will also focus on bringing the program more into the public eye.

"We have to do a better job of marketing this program," he said, "and there’s a lot more to that than getting people in the seats. We need to get this place’s name out there, so that when our coaches go out after a recruit, he’s heard of us. We’ve got to make this program better known."

A larger step, and one that could make a bigger impact on the entire department, is formation of the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Board, a foundation whose primary goal will be raising outside funding for the program. The organization, one made up of individuals outside the department, will set up parameters for a proposed annual giving drive.

The group had its second organizational meeting Monday.

"We need to put some organization into our fund-raising," Walker said, "and we’ll be presenting a plan to them asking for their advice and leadership. The people on this board are an impressive group. It’s going to be a tremendous benefit to the entire department."

Walker and UL associate athletic director Scott Farmer, hired earlier this fall, and board members are formulating a plan for review by president Ray Authement, who will be leaving that post in the near future when the selection process for his successor is completed. Walker said he hoped a plan could be in place during the spring semester.

"Dr. Authement has always been an extensive supporter of athletics," Walker said, "and we don’t anticipate the new president being any less supportive."

The state’s new funding formulas, which eliminate the cap on athletic spending, will also have more of an impact on department budgets during the next year.

"I told our coaches recently that if we spend our money wisely and prioritize our spending, budgets will not be an issue with us being successful," Walker said. "With the new dollars realized from the raise in the cap and new monies from outside, if we do a better job in our ticket sales in all sports there’s no reason we can’t be successful."

The Cajuns won two of their last three after an 0-5 and 1-8 start, and finished 3-4 in Sun Belt Conference play to tie for fifth place in the league standings. UL had been picked tied for fourth and fifth respectively in the league’s coaches and media preseason polls.

Walker said that he met with Bustle on the Monday following the Nov. 24 finale.

"We kind of went over the whole program and his vision of where we want to bring the program," he said, "sort of re-evaluating everything. Last year we made the decision to change both coordinators and they implemented two whole new offenses and defenses, and we knew that there would be some early problems with learning those."

Bustle said he hoped the new Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility, which opened in August, would have an even greater impact on recruiting classes this year and in future years.

"Our staff’s focus right now is all on recruiting," he said. "Getting that facility was a pressing need for us, and it’s a big tool in recruiting. It shows the commitment we have to the program."

And while recruiting is occupying much of his staff’s time, Bustle said that he and staff members are already tweaking ideas for the future.

"We’ll sit down as time permits, with guys in and out of here so much, and talk about a lot of things," he said. "Personnel, the off-season program, spring practice, what we need to get out of them, we’ll hit all those things. We’ll be making sure the kids finish up strong academically. We’ll have time to evaluate the things we did and the things we need to do better."

Advertiser File photo by Brad Kemp/bkemp@theadvert

UL Ragin’ Cajuns athletic director David Walker speaks at a press conference earlier this year. Walker’s vision for the football program and athletic department includes better marketing and more funding.

Cajun football under Rickey Bustle


Yearly record and conference finish under Rickey Bustle:


Year Overall Record Conf. Record Conf. Finish

2002 3-9 2-4 6th

2003 4-8 4-3 3rd

2004 4-7 2-5 7th

2005 6-5 5-2 Tied-1st

2006 6-6 3-4 5th

2007 3-9 3-4 7th