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The new Rice AD speaks

Rice fans hoping for big things from new Athletic Director Chris Del Conte, in particular hoping for a better venue for basketball, may find some solace in these remarks to the Chronicle.

Our men’s basketball program should be an economic resource to help offset the cost of playing guarantee games in football. First and foremost, we have to redo Autry to make that a revenue source, so that all of a sudden we don’t have to play those (guarantee games).

This is an entertainment dollar. We’re trying to build an athletic program and maintain the success that Bobby had, yet we put ourselves in position (to fail) because we have no other revenue sources coming from all of our other athletic events.

It’s the chicken and the egg, and the egg needs to be Autry. (First-year football coach) Todd Graham will win, but we as the administration have to meet him halfway and give him the tools necessary to be successful. I want to be our neighborhood team. The Texas Medical Center has 28,000 people. We have West U, Southgate and Southampton. There are 60,000 people within a three or four-mile radius of Rice University. We want to be that neighborhood team.

I want to focus our energies right here where we’re at. There are enough people here that we should be a vibrant part of their entertainment dollar and a vibrant part of their community.

Yes, I know, he doesn’t actually say the magic words, but he’s pointing in the right direction. One takes hope where one can.

Other changes at Rice:

The results of the ongoing facelift of Rice Stadium could pale in comparison to the wholesale changes in the athletic department once the fall semester commences.

Three longtime members of the department – senior associate athletic director Steve Moniaci, sports information director Bill Cousins and marketing director Mike Pede parted ways with the university on Wednesday morning.

According to several people familiar with the athletic department, Moniaci, who came to Rice in 1980, resigned from the post he had held since May 2001. Cousins, who joined the Rice staff in 1983, and Pede, who recently completed his 12th year on South Main, also will not return in the fall.

[…]

Moniaci joined Rice as the executive director for the Owl Club and athletic promotions. He was promoted to assistant AD of operations in 1985 and associate AD in 1997.

Cousins, the second full-time SID in Rice history, served as an assistant to Bill Whitmore before becoming his successor in 1984. Pede spent eight years at his alma mater – Houston – before coming to Rice in 1993 and earning several national marketing awards.

All three of these gentlemen were well thought of in the Owl community. It’s not a surprise that with a new AD comes this kind of change, but it’s still a sad day when familiar faces leave. I’m sure I speak for many Rice fans when I say I wish them all the best.

Finally, speaking of the stadium renovations, longtime MOBster Grungy has pictures of the work in progress.

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3 Comments

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    If he means what he says, then Rice is going to be getting the basketball court it desperately needs. It doesn’t have to be a huge court (Rice doesn’t need 15,000 seats), but it does have to be a better, more modern facility. Willis Wilson has done a good job with the facilities he’s had, but he’s taken it about as far as he can with the current limitations. As a local hoops fan, I’ve been hoping to hear this from someone at Rice for a long time. Even if it is sort of in code. 🙂

  2. Thank God they’re finally doing something with those men’s restrooms. Those had to have been the worst restrooms in all of Division I-A.

  3. Double B says:

    I’m not sure Bobby May has gotten enough credit for taking a god-awful athletic program and making it competitive. As a student in the late 80’s there wasn’t one sport that school could hang their hat on. That’s obviously changed now.

    Secondly, the new AD is right about the football guarantee games. The 2006 non-conference slate is UH, at UCLA, Texas (I presume at Reliant), and at Florida State. To say the least, that’s taking one for the program.

    Thirdly, does baseball generate any significant revenue? I’m guessing not because Del Conte didn’t mention it, but that would surprise me a bit.

    Lastly, rumor has it that the men’s hoops team could be very competitive this year (2nd in C-USA/NCAA bid). Any truth to that from anyone with more information than I?