A Letter From Joe Alleva
LSU Sports Interactive
Dear LSU Family,
It would be impossible for me to think of 2016 without remembering the loss and struggle so many in the Baton Rouge area and across South Louisiana have experienced. My thoughts and prayers and the entire LSU family are with you this holiday season. My hope and prayer is 2017 will bring relief, rebuilding and rebirth for our community.
From top to bottom, LSU Athletics is in a relentless pursuit of excellence. On the field of play, we are bringing in top recruits, top coaches and competing for championships. In the community, we are engaged with our city and contributing to our neighbors, and in the classroom we are excelling at an all-time high.
It has been a year of change in many ways for LSU, particularly with our football program. Difficult decisions and a wide-reaching search for a man who would lead our program to excellence on and off the field, brought us to a coach who was already a Tiger through and through. Ed Orgeron is a man of great integrity and a leader of young men of which all of us can be proud. The plan we have developed will follow his lead toward championship caliber play year after year. With top-notch recruits, Dave Aranda’s defense and an exciting offense under Matt Canada, the LSU faithful can expect great things to come. I have not seen our football program as enthusiastic, prepared and dedicated as it is right now.
And, if you haven’t already, give the gift of the Citrus Bowl in Orlando to cheer on our Tigers as they play Louisville in front of a national audience Dec. 31.
As proud as I am of where our football program is heading, I am even more proud of an historic accomplishment by all our student-athletes. This month we announced our student-athlete’s graduation success rate has risen to an all-time high of 88% - four points higher than the national average. This isn’t just a happy accident; it is part of our process toward excellence in all things. Since 2008, our graduation success rate has grown faster than any other school in the SEC.
A great example of one of our recent accomplishments in the classroom comes from one of our finest football players - Tre'Davious White. Tre’Davious turned down the opportunity to go to the NFL last year, instead came back to LSU to get his degree, becoming the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college. Tre’Davious graduated on Dec. 16, a week after it was announced that he earned first-team All-America honors on the football field. This is one of many great examples of our student-athletes putting a premium on a degree and we are so very proud of him.
It may be the worst kept secret in Baton Rouge – but the Pete Maravich Assembly center is home to the most exciting tickets in town. Gymnastics, and men’s and women’s basketball continue to fill that celebrated arena with top-tier talent and a fan-friendly environment. Gymnastics coach D-D Breaux has put LSU at the very top of the sport, with the nation’s most dynamic athletes and passionate fans filling up the PMAC for every meet. It’s as much a celebration as it is a sporting event and a can’t-miss experience for all Tiger fans.
We have two young and determined basketball teams working hard to make a mark in the SEC. Johnny Jones has a talented group of young men who have already scored a couple of upset victories and plan for many more. Coach Nikki Fargas too has her women’s team playing hard with a fast start and top-tier athletes who are working hard every day. Both teams are talented, dynamic and a blast to watch play. Let’s make sure we keep supporting these teams as they grow and compete throughout the season.
Most importantly, our fans continue to inspire all of us at LSU Athletics. Your support for your Tigers and your passion for all things LSU is unparalleled in college sports. You keep us at our best because you demand excellence from all of us. We are truly an LSU family and I’m honored to be a part of it.
While there has been a lot of change in Baton Rouge this year, at LSU and beyond, we have so much for which to be thankful. For me, I am thankful for the love of my family, the support and hard work of my staff and colleagues and of course the very best student-athletes and fans in all of college sports. Tiger Nation is strong, united and excited for what is to come in 2017.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and Geaux Tigers,