Exciting times are underway at the University of North Texas. UNT is a hub of creativity, and President Neal Smatresk has embraced the collective imagination of his students, faculty, and staff. Creativity is ingrained in the university’s culture, and that creativity fuels the amazing work by our students, faculty and staff.
Creativity is a common bond that helps unite UNT’s academic side of the house, and it also flows through the Mean Green athletic department. Athletic Director Wren Baker follows President Smatresk’s lead in embracing UNT’s originality, and recently shared a comprehensive strategic plan for athletics that will help ensure the Mean Green stay competitive nationally, competing for Conference USA Championships in all sports for years to come
This plan will likely evolve and grow, but it gives UNT a blueprint for what the next two decades will look like from an athletics facilities standpoint. It will also signal to student-athletes that they will have access to some of the best facilities in the nation. UNT has launched a website detailing the master plan, LightTheTower.com, with videos, photo galleries, features, and naming opportunities.
Sharing this vision promotes participation in supporting athletics by students and alumni, and it comes on the heels of several memorable moments this fall for the Mean Green football program. UNT routed Arkansas, 44-17, in an inspiring victory on Sept. 15 that was the Mean Green’s first against an SEC opponent since 1975. UNT legend and NFL Hall of Famer “Mean” Joe Greene also returned to be honored with the unveiling of a 12-foot bronze statue of his likeness at Apogee Stadium on Sept. 29.
As a creative tribute, Greene’s retired No. 75 was worn for the first time in 50 years by defensive end LaDarius Hamilton, and the university recreated the iconic Coca-Cola commercial that Greene appeared in back in 1979 – with Greene tossing Hamilton his jersey in a fun video that went viral on social media.
President Smatresk believes in Baker, his coaches and his athletics staff as they build successful teams in all sports. With our football program having played in bowl games each of the past two seasons, the women’s soccer team played in its fifth NCAA tournament in 2017 and the men’s basketball team winning The College Basketball Invitational last year, enthusiasm among our alumni and donors is unprecedented as we develop these facilities for our student-athletes.
“One of the great pieces of building a comprehensive university is athletics because it brings people together in a celebratory mode. Investments into our athletics programs are going to make a huge difference in how we can recruit student-athletes and, ultimately, how we have success. It can also serve as a point a pride for our alumni…”
— Dr. Neal Smatresk
President of the University of North Texas
We are extremely grateful to Jim and Linda McNatt, as well as Al and Darlene McNatt, who pledged $3 million in September to go toward the construction of UNT’s new indoor facility, as well as other capital improvement projects for the athletics program. That donation followed a generous $2.5 million gift from Don and Patty Lovelace, their son Dillon, and granddaughter, Macey, toward the construction of the facility. This leadership and investment in the university by these families continues the momentum we have established in terms of athletic fundraising, and it demonstrates the passion and loyalty for the Mean Green program
We all benefit from the leadership of President Smatresk and Wren Baker, who are dedicated to building champions and preparing leaders. Our partnerships with corporations, organizations, and the University of North Texas Alumni Association are invaluable. Thank you to our talented student-athletes, coaches and staff. Supporting you as fans is another opportunity for our campus community to feel more engaged and included with UNT.
“Light the Tower” again shows the creativity that unites the University. It is a fitting name for this effort to improve the athletic facilities. A university nurtures hope and expands ambition. The ambition of this plan is like a strong beacon, brightly lighting the way to meet the needs of UNT’s students, campus and alumni.
The creativity and vision of the leaders, faculty, staff and students at UNT strengthens all of North Texas.
“One of the great pieces of building a comprehensive university is athletics because it brings people together in a celebratory mode,” Smatresk said in a statement on LightTheTower. “Investments into our athletics programs are going to make a huge difference in how we can recruit student-athletes and, ultimately, how we have success. It can also serve as a point a pride for our alumni. They want to see that our facilities look the way that they feel about their university.”
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