Dear Cajun Nation,
As 2019 comes to an end, I want to say THANK YOU for your continued support of Ragin' Cajuns Athletics. This past year we achieved so many accomplishments and milestones throughout our entire organization, for all of which I know you can be very proud!
Our sport programs saw unprecedented success academically and athletically. In the classroom, 8 of our 16 teams (men's cross country, women's cross country, golf, soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis, women's track, volleyball) achieved perfect Academic Progress Rate scores, a mark that measures academic achievement through progress made toward degrees and retention. All 16 programs far exceeded the required marks set by the NCAA.
Additionally, more than half of our student-athletes achieved a 3.0 GPA or higher during both the fall and spring terms. We're looking forward to an even better 2020 in the classroom.
Being great students and great leaders in our community comes before anything else, and I'm proud to report that our Louisiana student-athletes volunteered more than 4,000 hours of community service in Lafayette and around Acadiana in 2019.
Athletically, numerous achievements and accolades were produced this past year. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Cheerleading finished 8th
in the nation at the UCA Collegiate National Championship. The sport of Track & Field won six Sun Belt Conference individual titles between the men's and women's programs, while our Men's Tennis program earned a doubles team national ranking (Libaud and Dolan, 53rd
) for the first time since 2014. Additionally, Men's Tennis achieved an Oracle/ITA national ranking of 66 and boasted the 26th
-best recruiting class in the country by the TRN/Mizuno poll.
Ragin' Cajuns Softball experienced remarkable success that included a program record 29 consecutive wins and a perfect 25-0 record in Sun Belt Conference regular season play. These accomplishments, along with a 52-game season win total and regular season and conference tournament championships, garnered the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year award for Head Coach Gerry Glasco
. Former head coach Yvette Girouard, the architect of Ragin' Cajuns Softball, was appropriately honored through the unveiling of her name on the softball field at Lamson Park.
A number of Louisiana Athletics coaching win milestones were experienced this year. Men's Basketball Head Coach Bob Marlin
became just the fifth coach in Sun Belt Conference history to win 100 league games. Coach Marlin and Volleyball Head Coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot
both claimed their 400th
career victories, while the late Tony Robichaux garnered his 900th
win as head coach for Louisiana Baseball.
Under the direction of first-year Head Coach Lance Key
, the Women's Soccer program earned its first Sun Belt Conference tournament appearance since 2016 and claimed its first-ever tournament win on November 6.
Louisiana Football experienced unprecedented success, signing the No. 1 recruiting class in the Sun Belt Conference and achieving the first 10-win regular season finish in program history. A second-straight Sun Belt Conference West Division championship was produced and the winning of seven conference games was another program first. Head Coach Billy Napier
was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, the first in the Sun Belt era for Louisiana, and offensive lineman Kevin Dotson became the first-ever Associated Press
First Team All-American in school history.
Louisiana Athletics realized numerous accomplishments administratively. In our on-going efforts to advance the Ragin' Cajuns brand, 2019 saw the continued progress of Ragin' Cajuns Broadcast Productions, which allows for the in-house production of all our events in conjunction with our television partners ESPN and Cox Sports Television (CST). Further advancing the brand, we were successful in continuing our partnership with CST through a contract extension that places Ragin' Cajuns athletic events and our coaches shows in millions of households across the country. Additionally, we successfully negotiated a three-year extension with adidas that not only continues our partnership with a global leader in sports apparel, but also improved the financial value over previous contracts.
In an effort to continuously enhance the game-day experience for our patrons, this past summer we unveiled a Fan-Friendly Concessions model that garnered national media attention for the University and Ragin' Cajuns Athletics. To improve the student experience at our events, Athletics Department staff worked closely with University and student leaders to create the first-ever Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Student Organization, whose charge is to support and promote our athletic events amongst the student body. Since its inception, we have experienced a 57% increase in student attendance at our events.
Calendar year 2019 saw enhancing change within the Ragin' Cajuns Athletics Foundation (RCAF). The Total Investment model was implemented that provides equity, simplicity, and transparency to our investors and members. New leadership was announced with the RCAF as Lee De Leon was named Deputy Director of Athletics, Executive Director of RCAF in July.
At the Sun Belt Conference level, both President Savoie and myself were named Chairs for our respective leadership groups. This opportunity has allowed us to work closely with newly appointed Commissioner Keith Gill as we, along with our colleagues, continue to advance the Conference. Amongst our departmental staff, Louisiana Athletics received national recognition as Director of Equipment Operations Kerry Conner
was named the National Equipment Manager of the Year by the American Equipment Managers Association and Assistant Director of Athletics for Video Operations Darren Walker
was tabbed Sun Belt Conference Video Coordinator of the Year by the College Sports Video Association.
With all that was accomplished in 2019, so too was lost with the passing of several members of the Ragin' Cajuns Athletics family. Geri Ann Glasco (Softball), Leonard Wiltz (Facilities), Lynn Williams (Equipment Operations), and Tony Robichaux (Baseball) are dearly missed and will forever live in our hearts.
Success within an organization begins with a plan. In October, Let's Geaux, the Strategic Plan for Louisiana Athletics was released. Let's Geaux will serve as our road map over the next three years as we strive daily to achieve our vision of becoming a nationally prominent Division I athletics program. To do so, we must geaux beyond each and every day, together, in order to move our department forward.
The future of Louisiana Athletics is bright! If 2019 is any indication of what 2020 will bring, we will experience continued success in the classroom, in the community, and in the competitive arenas. Please allow me to end this letter as I began…THANK YOU for all you do for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns and our amazing University. On behalf of our coaches, staff, and student-athletes, I wish you and yours a Happy New Year!