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In fact, as members of the Big Sky, SUU and Weber State now represnt the only two institutions in Utah that are direct rivals through conference affiliation. Both institutions are working with sponsors to develop a rivalry series that will be exciting for

“It’s here!” “We’re ready, and it’s here,” affirms SUU Athletic Director Ken Beazer. On July 1, two decades of work and progress and undeniable strides across campus came to fruition when SUU officially joined the Big Sky Athletic Conference—a new era for Thunderbird Athletics and SUU fans everywhere. And though his eyes hint at excitement, Beazer is all business as he plunges into a discussion about the University’s much-anticipated move. He knows, perhaps more than anyone else, that the work has only just begun. “This has been our goal for 20 years, but rather than sit back and enjoy it, now we really just need to adjust our target.” While much of that work falls on the University’s athletic program, Thunderbird alumni and fans hold an important stake in SUU’s success in the Big Sky. According to Beazer “There will be much more to see now that we’ll be playing in the West and against teams that our fans know and can invest in a similar sense of rivalry and competition.”

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IN VIEW

fans throughout the state. Location truly is everything, and conference play against teams that are closer to home will make for a much more exciting game day environment.

The

catch?

SUU’s

teams will now play in some of the nation’s most

stadiums, wrought with generations of superfans who would rather die miss

With

a

a

game.

geographic

span from Arizona to Montana and California to North Dakota, and with a sharp increase

in televised games (The Big Sky has contracted with DIRECTV Sports Networks to broadcast all its football games.), SUU’s new alignment with the Big Sky offers little excuse for SUU alumni—the bulk of whom still reside in the West—to miss the Thunderbirds in action. In terms of fan support, the loudest, largest crowd always wins, and SUU's fans will have to up their game to match the opponent's fervor. “It’s

going

to

never experienced that kind of fanatical following.” “We have enhanced the product—what’s going on on the field, what’s going on on the court. We have enhanced it by our own team’s caliber of play and also by bringing in these great opponents. Our fans can expect to see really exciting play." “I would hope,” continues Beazer, “that our fans will pay a little more attention to what is going on moving forward. When there is a game, it should be a must-see game rather than an ‘if I have time’ game.” Given the fervor of the competitors’ boosters, the high level of play within the Big Sky, and Thunderbird Athletics’ own recent successes, there is little reason to stay away and many reasons to join in the action. For their part, SUU’s coaches and athletes have been hard at workpreparing for the highest level of play SUU has ever seen. And though the T-Birds may at first glance appear to be underdogs, Beazer is confident when he says, “We are ready.” In this first year, Beazer boldly defines success for SUU’s teams as being competitive in the upper echelon of the conference. In fact, says Beazer, “Most if not all of our sports have a real chance to win.”

“Our fans are going to walk in and go, ‘Wow, this is different. This is big time’.”

intimidating

than

stadiums. “Many of our fans have

be

unlike

anything our fans have seen,” says Beazer, as he describes the thunderous crowds in most Big Sky

SUU In View - Fall 2012  

The Fall 2012 issue of Southern Utah University’s alumni magazine.