On Balance
by Paul E. Torgersen, 9/12/00

Several days ago, in reviewing HokieCentral.com, I happened upon an article written by the proprietor of the site in which he discussed a couple of the recent decisions made by Tech Athletics Director Jim Weaver. The article, called "Dream Weaver: Not Lately," took an in-depth, critical look at the decisions made by Mr. Weaver regarding defensive end Derrius Monroe and the BCA Bowl. As most know, Mr. Weaver allowed Monroe to return to practice (but not competition) after Monroe pled guilty to a felony and he made the decision that Virginia Tech would not play in the BCA Bowl the first Friday in December after the original date was cancelled because of the now infamous thunderstorm.

The author of the article makes credible points. However, not knowing totally the facts on either situation, I prefer not to debate these two issues. I do believe Mr. Weaver acted in good faith on both counts to do what was best for both Tech athletics and the university. I believe that because I have high confidence in the integrity of the Athletics Director.

I hired Jim Weaver three years ago and think of him as one of the finest athletics directors in the nation as well as a good friend, I choose to focus on his accomplishments during his tenure at Virginia Tech. I would not like to see a few of his recent decisions cloud the minds of Virginia Tech fans regarding his accomplishments.

First and foremost, Jim Weaver got Virginia Tech into the Big East Conference for all sports. Virginia Tech had not been in one conference for every sport since 1965. Mr. Weaver put forth a plan to change that. He implemented the plan. He negotiated with administrators and presidents at other Big East schools to lower the entrance fee, saving the Athletics Department hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This accomplishment alone speaks volumes for Weaver. Virginia Tech athletics toiled in several conferences, creating all sorts of logistical problems along with identity problems. Now, people think of the Big East when talking about any of Tech's sports.

Secondly, Jim Weaver figured out a way to keep Frank Beamer here at Virginia Tech as a football coach. A couple of years ago, Beamer discussed job openings at both Clemson and South Carolina. To keep him here, Mr. Weaver came up with a creative way to keep Beamer by adding financial terms to Beamer's contract. In addition, Mr. Weaver boosted the salaries of Beamer's assistant coaches to keep them here. As a result, the continuity with the coaching staff was one of the big reasons Tech played for the national championship this past season.

Third, Mr. Weaver has overseen the current stadium expansion project and other facility projects. Currently, more than 5,000 seats have been added to the stadium during his brief tenure. And with season tickets at an all-time high, Mr. Weaver intuitively saw the need for more seats and luxury boxes. More importantly, he and his associates came up with a financial plan to finance the $50 million project, which should add more than 10,000 seats to Lane Stadium.

Facilities have been Mr. Weaver's calling card. Often saying that facilities is about "keeping up with the Joneses," Mr. Weaver currently has put forth plans to renovate the seats and ambulatory in Cassell Coliseum, create a new football practice field behind Jamerson Athletics Center, re-sod the old practice field for use by Tech's lacrosse and soccer teams, and build a new fieldhouse for the football team. This last venture would enable the Athletics Department's splendid indoor track to stay up year round and allow both baseball and softball teams a practice area during inclement weather in the spring.

Fourth, Mr. Weaver has put together a fine football schedule. His decision to buy out the Cincinnati series and add Clemson netted the Athletics Department a financial windfall while providing fans with a great game against a name opponent. And the list of teams scheduled to visit Lane Stadium in the next 10 years reads like a "Who's who?" among college football powerhouses - Texas A&M, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Auburn and Illinois. Those teams whet the appetite of any college football fan.

Fifth, Jim Weaver was the main cog in reaching a four-year agreement with the University of Virginia in bringing the basketball games back to campuses for the first time since 1976. This should enhance, even more, to what is already becoming a classic rivalry, and more importantly, gives the students at Virginia Tech and Virginia a chance to become more involved with this rivalry.

Sixth, Mr. Weaver brings a keen business sense to his position as the Athletics Director. Since the Athletics Department gets no financial support from the state and since it acts as a separate, auxiliary unit of the university, this trait is imperative in an athletics director. His financial aptitude has placed the Athletics Department in its best financial situation in years.

These are just a few examples of the things Jim Weaver has done for this university. Having said all that, perhaps the best thing that Mr. Weaver has done is to bring forth a commitment to making Virginia Tech one of the best athletics programs in the country, not just in football, but in all sports. He represents this university with integrity and class and that, along with his wisdom, makes him the ideal person to lead Virginia Tech into the 21st century. So please remember all of that and base your judgments of this man on all his accomplishments instead of one or two arguable decisions.

Paul E. Torgersen
John Hancock Chair in Engineering
and President Emeritus

Dr. Paul Torgersen has a long and distinguished career in service to Virginia Tech, including his term as Virginia Tech's 14th president from 1993 to 2000. For more on Dr. Torgersen and his contributions to the university, see this link.

          

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