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AD Danny White says proposed field house will help UB engage more local support.
In case you haven’t heard by now, Danny White is on a mission to bring big-time college athletics to Western New York. Since the start of the academic year, White has used several speaking engagements to share with members of the UB community and beyond his vision for UB athletics.
White has been working on this since being named athletic director in May 2012, taking over for Warde Manuel, now the AD at the University of Connecticut. White sees the Bulls earning mentions alongside such stalwarts as Louisville and Boise State—two programs that, White notes, have changed their national profiles in the modern era of college athletics.
Both institutions also happen to be smaller than UB. “UB has more potential than any athletic department in America. I firmly believe it. The statistics are there. It can happen very quickly,” White said during a campus speaking engagement in January.
UB has a large alumni base, particularly in the Buffalo Niagara region, and it has a bigger budget and larger enrollment figures than Louisville and Boise State. What it lacks—for now—is wider support from the local community. White plans to change that, and the epicenter of this change is UB Stadium.
In addition to presentations around campus, White has taken to social media to spread the word. “Building a field house at UB Stadium is critical as we bring big-time college athletics to Western New York and our over 100K alumni across New York State,” White said on his Twitter account (@UBDannyWhite) just after 5:30 one January morning.
White plans on spearheading projects to obtain funding for a field house and enhancing UB Stadium with lucrative amenities, like premium seating. “It [doesn’t] have to take 20 to 30 years,” White says. “Louisville took only eight years to get invited to the Big East [Conference].”
Facility improvements are critical if UB hopes to engage more support from the local community, White contends. If all goes accordingly, the next several years could see the rise of an exciting new era in athletics at UB.
Wherever Lee Nickell goes, success follows. Nickell played number one singles from 1998 to 2002 at Furman University, where he was coached by Paul Scarpa, the all-time winningest coach in Division I men’s tennis history.
After playing, Nickell served as an assistant coach at Alabama, helping to guide that program to an impressive turnaround that saw the Crimson Tide make the Sweet 16 in 2006. Next, Nickell coached alongside Buffalo native Jay Udwadia at Fresno State, which ranked 44th in the nation after the 2008-09 season.
Nickell has continued that success at UB, as the men’s tennis program continues to raise its profile since he was hired as head coach in 2009. Success began immediately as the Bulls went undefeated in the MAC while earning a top seed in the league championship tournament, as well as national rankings for several Bulls—all during Nickell’s first season. He was named MAC coach of the year in 2010.
As he readied the Bulls for the spring 2013 season, Nickell was particularly excited about a quartet of promising international student-athletes, including Pablo Alvarez and Sergio Arevalillo, both freshmen from Madrid, Spain. Alvarez was the 13th-ranked junior singles player in Spain, while Arevalillo is also a top 25 player in that country.
Sophomore Sebastian Ionescu, a transfer from Arizona, was a national champion in his native Romania. Sophomore Damien David, of Montreal, was the MAC’s rookie of the year last season. Senior Vusa Hove, of Harare, Zimbabwe, ranked 123rd in the nation heading into the spring campaign and 14th in the Northeast Region. Sixteen of the top 20 players in the Northeast hail from Ivy League schools.
“We’ve got a really good core of players,” Nickell says.
Nickell’s ultimate goals are to win the MAC Tournament title and crack the top 50 in the national rankings. “It’s an ambitious goal, but we certainly have the ability to win the tournament,” he says.
UB Athletics announced in January the creation of the “Legends of the Hardwood” series to honor UB’s greatest basketball players. On Jan. 26, Brenna Doty Rousseau, BS ’98, had her No. 31 jersey honored in Alumni Arena before the women’s game against Western Michigan.
Doty Rousseau ranks second all-time at UB with 1,703 career points (14.7 per game) and holds the record for career three-pointers (296). During the 1996-97 season, Doty Rousseau led the nation with 3.5 three-pointers per game. A three-time UB Female Athlete of the Year, Doty Rousseau was inducted into the Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
Felisha Legette-Jack is enjoying early success in her first year as women’s basketball head coach. The Bulls rolled to a 3-0 record in MAC play early in the 2012-13 season with consecutive wins over Ohio, Kent State and Toledo. It was the program’s best league start since joining the conference in 1998-99.
Legette-Jack joined UB from Indiana University. During her six years as Hoosiers head coach, Legette-Jack led IU to three postseason appearances. In 2008-09, Indiana won a program record-tying 21 games.
This season’s Bulls have been led by a pair of freshmen, Rachael Gregory (10.7 points per game) and Mackenzie Loesing (10.6 per game).
Don’t be surprised if there’s a drop in interest at the running back position around the MAC this coming fall. Mack will be back in a Bulls uniform for his senior season. The Fort Pierce, Fla., native announced in January that he will return for his final season. Ranked among the top linebackers in the nation, Mack could have left a year early and entered the NFL draft.
Instead, he chose to return and earn his college degree. “The expectations here are to graduate and compete for championships,” he says. A two-time All- MAC first team selection, Mack holds school records for forced fumbles (11) and tackles for a loss—he has 56, which is 19 shy of the career NCAA record.
Compiled by David J. Hill, a staff writer in UB’s Office of University Communications
Inductees into the 2013 Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame in Alumni Arena have been announced. This year’s honorees will be recognized at an event on April 19.
Stacey M. (Evans)
Hayes, BS ’05
John J. Kaminska, BA ’77
Jennifer E. Koeppel-Acker,
EDM ’07 Mathematics
Education; BA ’05
Joseph J. Mihalics Jr., BA
Devon W. (Russell)
Minocchi, BA ’04
Robert P. Barczak, EDM
’64 Higher Education; EDB
’61 Physical Education
High school administrator/
James M. Militello, BA ’79