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Notebook: UNT budget includes $600,000 for baseball

Profile image for By Brett Vito / Staff Writer
By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

IRVING — North Texas cleared another hurdle Tuesday in its efforts to add a baseball program when the regents’ finance committee approved a budget for the 2014 fiscal year that includes $600,000 to cover the startup funding for the program.

The budget also includes an increase of $432,353 to the student services portion that will help cover the cost of sending more student-athletes to summer school. The total proposed budget is $28,535,615 — up 11.5 percent from the 2013 budget.

“It’s a great mix of additional income from the athletic program, Conference USA and the university that will enable us to become more competitive,” UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said.

The funding in the budget for baseball will help UNT move forward with its long-stated plan to revive a program that was disbanded in 1988.

“We are in Conference USA, so we need a baseball team,” said Don Potts, chairman of the finance committee. “With Title IX, we are going to have to add a girls team to go along with it. That will add to our entire program.”

Villarreal will meet with the school’s baseball committee to discuss the next step toward adding a program today. The group has been raising money to build a new baseball facility across from the Mean Green Athletic Center and Apogee Stadium.

The school has set the area aside for that purpose in its master plan.

UNT is expected to break ground on a new stadium and hire a coach within the next few months. Villarreal did not give a definitive timeline but indicated that the school plans to move quickly.

“We all want it to happen as soon as possible,” Villarreal said. “We will assess where we are in terms of a facility. One of the important aspects of hiring a coach is a facility. They want to know where they are going to play.”

Potts estimated last month that UNT has raised $3 million for a venue, a total that would allow the school to finance a $7 million facility.

The increase in the student services section of the budget will have an impact on UNT’s athletic program. Villarreal said that the athletic department found other ways to come up with enough money to send its athletes to summer school in the past. UNT now will know that the money is there heading into the year.

The portion of the budget designated for football is listed at $6,734,812 — an increase of $514,717 over 2013.

The additional funding will help ensure that UNT will play six home games per season and have flexibility in terms of nonconference scheduling, Villarreal said.

UNT’s regents passed an amendment to the system budget to consider adding $2.8 million in revenue and expenditures last month and directed school officials to examine the school’s athletic budget.

UNT President Lane Rawlins said school officials met several times over the last few weeks to review the budget and a five-year plan for the athletic department.

Rawlins told the regents that he wants to increase the school’s athletics budget to rank in the top half of C-USA to ensure the school’s programs will be competitive. UNT joined the league this summer after 12 years in the Sun Belt Conference.



McCarney: Turnaround wasn’t about adjustments

UNT competely turned around its game agianst Ball State on Saturday, when the Mean Green came back from an 18-point deficit for a 34-27 win.

UNT shut Ball State out in the second half, when the Mean Green scored 18 of its 25 unanswered points.

UNT’s players said that the way they played after halftime had more to do with execution than any adjustments they made.

“We didn’t make any scheme adjustments,” UNT linebacker Zach Orr said. “We were really confident in the game plan. We saw everything we were expecting to see. It was just a lack of execution. We got in at halfitme and said that the game plan was not changing. We just had to come out and do what we needed to.”

UNT coach Dan McCarney echoed those comments Monday during his weekly press conference.

“People get carried away and say that you must have made a lot of halftime adjustments,” McCarney said. “There were not a lot of halftime adjustments made. We were doing a lot of the same things in the first half that in the second half led to third-down stops and some of the best defense we have played since I have been here. We just executed better and the guys made plays.”

Ball State missed a field goal and punted twice in the second half. UNT also made a key fourth-down stop and capped the game with an interception.


Maturity of team helping

McCarney has spoken since spring practice about how the 2013 edition of the Mean Green has a different feel than in his previous two seasons at UNT.

The way UNT came from behind to beat Ball State was another indication of that change, McCarney said.

“The leadership, maturity and hunger — which is so important — make this team different,” McCarney said. “So you want to be different and special? Not be defined by anything on the outside and define how you want to be remembered by what you do? This senior class is determined to be different and be better than we have been in a long time.”

UNT took a key step toward that goal after falling behind 27-9 in the second quarter of its game against the Cardinals.

UNT’s rally was its largest since it came back from a 21-3 deficit to beat Texas Tech 29-24 in 1988.



UNT faces tough stretch

UNT will close out the nonconference portion of its schedule this week with one of its toughest series of games this season beginning Friday at Baylor. UNT will then play host to Oklahoma State on Sunday afternoon.

The Mean Green (6-2) will enter those games on a roll after posting four straight shutouts, including a 5-0 trouncing of Oklahoma on Sunday in Norman. UNT also beat TCU 2-0, giving the Mean Green two wins over Big 12 teams this year.

Those wins have caught the attention of UNT’s opponents and earned some national respect. UNT received five votes in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, up from one last week.

UNT essentially is ranked 38th nationally.

“We are not going to sneak up on anyone now,” UNT coach John Hedlund said. “Everyone is trying to get film and scouting reports on us. Teams are trying to break us down, and not just our conference opponents. These Big 12 schools are, too. When you see a score like 5-0 at OU, that is pretty impressive. We were scouted in the past but not like this.”

Maintaining the momentum UNT has built early in the season could be tough in games against Baylor and OSU. The Bears were unbeaten at 6-0-2 heading into the week with wins over SMU and Missouri.

One of Baylor’s ties came against McNeese State, a team UNT beat 2-0.

OSU is riding a four-game winless streak and will visit Rice on Friday before taking on UNT.

“We have two tough ones this week,” Hedlund said. “These games should be a battle. This is one of the toughest stretches we have.”


Holden named top player

Rachel Holden added to her list of accomplishments during a standout freshman season this week when she was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for the second time.

Holden posted a hat trick in UNT’s win over Oklahomma and has nine goals on the year. It is the second time that Holden has been named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week. Goalkeeper Haley Riley was named the Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 9.

“She is becoming a very special player,” Hedlund said of Holden. “She has all the tools to be one of the greats who have played here. She has the breakaway speed, touch and the composure, and she is extremely competitive. You saw it at OU when she had the hat trick. On that third goal, there were a couple of OU defenders trying to pull her down. She fought through it and scored.”



UNT bound for Houston

UNT will head to a tournament in Houston this weekend riding a two-match losing streak after dropping its last two contests at the Boise State tournament last weekend.

The Mean Green got off to a good start with a 3-0 sweep of Sacramento State but lost to Boise State 3-1 and was swept by Idaho. UNT has lost three of its last four matches.

UNT will look to bounce back in matches against LSU, Houston and Baylor.