“In your choices lies your talent.” — Stella Adler
I am lucky to have choices. And by inductive logic, I egotistically believe I have talent.
When I left USTA Texas in March of 2011, it was to try something completely different and challenge myself. The tasks were to convert Penick-Allison Tennis Center at The University of Texas at Austin from a private rec sports facility to a public one, as well as revitalize the Longhorns Tennis Camp.
During my interviews, I brought up the theory that PATC was probably the prime location for a medical school should the UT System decide to add one. That was met with a fairly confident assertion that this was AT LEAST six to ten years away. Common logic reasoned the state would need about three legislative sessions for the economy to really make this possible.
As it turns out, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and State Senator Kirk Watson were on a mission. Let me point this out at the top, I am and always have been in favor of UT building a medical school (even on top of PATC). I believe Chancellor Cigarroa’s vision of one in Austin and one in the Valley are 100% needed for the future of this state. I won’t argue funding. That is for another time and place.
Amazingly, they got the ball rolling and before we knew it, not only had the Board of Regents approved $25M annually for a working budget, but there was also a countywide vote to create a hospital district this past November. The measure passed without really much opposition and PATC’s fate was sealed.
Next, the Dell Foundation donated another $50M and the ball was rolling downhill and fast.
Yes, there were rumors of it being elsewhere, but those of us who really knew the land issues understood – PATC was gone.
What did that mean?
One night in December, while surfing the Internet, I kept getting ads for an Masters program in Analytics at the University of San Francisco on a particular coding website I frequent. I actually clicked the link and read about the program. It looked amazing. The coursework was tantalizing (I am a nerd). The only problem was that I have a family and live in Austin.
A few weeks later, a professor at UT, who hits at the courts and knew I was a stats geek told me about a new program starting at Texas. Later, I looked into the program. It seemed awesome, but I had committed to the tennis center and really thought I was a year away from something like this… and never full-time.
February comes and I decide to apply and then we will see where things go. SoI apply, not really thinking much. Life and the tennis center go on.
In mid-March, I was accepted into the program. Officially, this is a one year, MS in Business Analytics from the McCombs School of Business at UT. For those who don’t know, the IS/IROM degree in the graduate school at McCombs was ranked #4 in the country this past year and is considered the strongest department within the graduate school. This was starting to be too good to be true.
Not much was forthcoming officially (or unofficially) from the University on the status of PATC. We were just grinding away, making things work and getting ready for camp.
After a lot of thought, I decided to make the leap of faith, do a complete about face career-wise and enter grad school as a 48-year old. I immediately had the full support of the coaching staff. Michael, Patty, Darija, Ricky and Alex have always thought this was the right decision for me and have been great.
I approached my superiors (not the coaching staff) and explained my plans. It seemed obvious that the tennis center’s life would not extend much beyond Summer 2014 and we had contracts through January 2014, so I recommended I stay on, attend school full-time and use my comp and vacation time to complete the Fall semester and keep the facility running.
This was immediately (tentatively) approved. It was a win-win situation for everyone. I get to work a bit through school and they don’t have to let me go. I just walk away January 1.
Several more meetings. I was asked to write a proposal. Done. Still have the approval. Then a few weeks later, right in the middle of camp, I was told my position and the tennis center’s immediate future as a public facility were unfunded and my services would officially no longer be needed as of September 1.
That being said, I am unofficially done at UT. I have a few responsibilities to close out camp, but am taking the max comp time over the next month.
So back to what does that mean?
It appears as thought PATC will be no longer after May 2014. The teams will occupy the place by themselves for the next nine months. There will be a new facility built on the east side, next to softball that should be really nice. Plans are in the works.
As for me, I am heading to grad school full-time with no regrets. I plan on writing and doing more detailed work here, as well as at TennisRecruiting.Net, where Dallas and I have spoken about several topics I hope to write on.
I have several pet projects in the works. Some ITA-related, some ATP-related and some just big picture tennis stuff. I promise to get back to writing the articles I really enjoyed and diving into detail on some issues and misconceptions with college tennis.
I would like to thank the coaches at Texas. Patty, Michael, Ricky, Darija and Alex have all been amazing to work with. There is a lot behind the scenes that people don’t realize is involved when running a successful NCAA division I program at a state university. The business is getting more and more complicated and I enjoyed my time on the 40 acres and am extremely proud of what we accomplished.
Apologies for this long and rambling piece, but I needed to give all of the story and its background.
NEXT: Some details on projects that are forthcoming.