As I approach my second year as the Director of Athletics (one year as Interim AD), I want to take this opportunity to thank the Bakersfield community for your support of the CSUB Athletics Department. Our mission in CSUB Athletics is to develop ‘Champions for Life’ through a commitment to academic excellence, an outstanding student-athlete experience, competitive success, and community engagement. We continue to be on a remarkable trajectory in these areas just finishing our most successful NCAA Division I season to date during the 2015-16 year.
Our success this year would not have been possible without you. Many of you – be you supporters, ticket purchasers, sponsors, alumni student-athletes, media, coaches, staff professors, administrators and members of the greater Bakersfield community – have been, and are, valuable members of our ‘Runner family.
Allow me to share some of the highlights from the year: We were waiting for the day when our name would be seen by millions when being called on Selection Sunday in the coveted NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket, we lived that dream this past March punching our ticket to ‘The Big Dance’. How great was it that our program was the lead story on ESPN Sportscenter the evening we won the WAC Championship as they broke into programing to bring Dedrick Basile, who hit the game winning shot, on ESPN live at courtside? Our athletics department, university, and city received unprecedented-exposure during our postseason run. It was also great to hear how all the bars and restaurants in Bakersfield were packed as our city came together to cheer on the ‘Runners against eventual Final Four participant, Oklahoma.
Attendance doubled in 2015-16 for men’s basketball, including our first Icardo Center sellout in over 20 years. Success has attracted a new fan base as we’ve sold a record number of season tickets during the offseason and the season doesn’t start for another four months. Attendance significantly increased for all sports, with overall ticket revenue increasing by 45% this past year.
One of the best memories of the year was watching our CSUB softball team celebrate after winning the WAC Championship advancing to their first NCAA Regional hosted by UCLA. I would encourage our fans to Google “CSUB’s Jo Larios calls on her mom during NMSU game to hit the game winning home run” by Stephen Hicks at ABC 23. What an inspirational story! With softball’s championship, that makes four WAC Championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances for the Roadrunners over the last two years.
Our student-athletes continued their success in the classroom this year by not only reaching the long-time goal of a departmental cumulative 3.0 GPA, but actually surpassing that mark when we finished the year with a 3.05 cumulative GPA, the highest in our 46-year history. I have no doubt our student-athletes are going to continue to excel in the classroom as we near the finish line on our beautiful new athletics academic facility.
It was a great year by CSUB Wrestling as they won the Pac-12 dual season defeating Stanford, Oregon State, Cal Poly, and Boise State. They also sent five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in New York. The wrestling program is in great shape with the recent hiring of head coach, Manny Rivera. Coach Rivera brings a strong background as an All-American wrestler who won a team national championship at Minnesota and as a coach with experience at Minnesota, Virginia, and North Dakota State.
Last, but not least, we just recently announced another record breaking year for the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund which has increased from $340,000 in 2013 to $760,000 this year. At the same time, overall giving has increased from $780,000 to over $2.3 million. These increases in fundraising have a direct correlation with our recent success. The bottom line is we could not have done it without the Bakersfield community.
Again, thank you for your support of CSUB Athletics. We had a great year and things are only going to get better.
Kenneth ”Ziggy” Siegfried
Director of Athletics