V. Lane Rawlins
UNT's been making headlines lately with good news from our athletics program. The latest is an announcement I'm proud to make -- we are becoming members of Conference USA in the 2013 season.
Moving our competitions to C-USA will be great for our fans because of the many natural, regional rivalries it will create. Having conference members in Texas and in nearby states makes this a logical move so that Mean Green fans can more readily attend games.
We've been part of the Sun Belt Conference since 2000 and have experienced great success there, including 20 conference championships and four bowl games. We have enjoyed our time in the Sun Belt and look forward to our final season with the conference teams we've played for so long.
We're also excited about this great opportunity, which will mean a higher level of competition for our teams, more national media exposure and better name-recognition for our university. Raising the level of competition will make our athletics program stronger. We will compete against many successful teams, which will help us raise our level of play. And competing with the other C-USA institutions better reflects the true academic quality of our university.
This conference change comes at a time when UNT's athletics program is on the rise. Since 2003, we have developed more than 12 new athletics facilities. After opening our world-class, first-of-its kind green Apogee Stadium last fall with a $20 million sponsorship, we hosted record crowds -- breaking an all-time single-season attendance record with more than 113,000 fans -- and had our best football season since 2004.
I know it's only going to get better. We've got an even stronger team going into this fall, and Coach McCarney is fired up to make this another winning season. We'll continue to have great matchups as a member of C-USA. This is a great time to buy season tickets because football at UNT will be more exciting than ever. The Mean Green is your home team!
There are great things happening in basketball, too. Tony Benford, the former men's basketball associate head coach at Marquette University, joined us as the new head coach of men's basketball. We were sorry to lose Johnny Jones to his alma mater, Louisiana State University, but we wish him great success as its new head coach. We've also welcomed Mike Petersen, the former head coach of women's basketball at Wake Forest University, as the new head coach of women's basketball. He replaces Karen Aston, who joined the University of Texas at Austin as head coach. We also wish her continued success. Both Tony and Mike bring plenty of experience and great track records to UNT, and they are taking over winning teams with a lot of talent. We expect a great basketball season this year.
There are plenty of other Mean Green milestones to celebrate. The Mean Green tennis team and the men's golf team won 2011-12 Sun Belt Conference tournament championships, while our Mean Green soccer team won the regular season championship. Our student-athletes continue to excel academically, thanks to the dedication of our athletics staff members and others at the university in ensuring they get the benefits of a first-rate education.
These advances are part of UNT's overall momentum and reflect our ongoing commitment to uphold the three A's: academics, the arts and athletics. We're intent on being great across the board because providing a top-quality experience enriched by knowledge, culture, competition and community is what makes great universities stand out.
V. Lane Rawlins