Mystery man helping pave path for UofA athletics

Hard work pays off.

This age-old adage doesn’t always ring true, particularly in the everyday workforce but don’t try telling that to three of the most prominent figures on the campus of the University of Arizona.

Vice President and Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, along with head men’s basketball coach Sean Miller and head football coach Rich Rodriguez, if approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, will receive a nice pay hike for their efforts and it’s easy to understand why as each have helped elevate Wildcat athletics since their arrivals in Tucson.

But there is a bigger carrot on the end of the stick for all three.

A mystery man has come forward.

One with deep pockets and a clear passion for UofA athletics.

An anonymous “major university benefactor” has offered to put their money where their mouth is–in the form of a half million shares of stock currently valued at around $35 a unit. The majority of the $17.68 million net value would go towards the athletic department but Byrne, Miller and Rodriguez would each get their share of the stocks, which they could sell for the cash value if each are still employed by the university in eight years.

College athletes may be considered amateurs but nothing else is when it comes to dollars and cents at the most consistently successful sports programs in the nation. Phil Knight at Oregon. T.Boone Pickens at Oklahoma State.

The trickle-down effect is evident.

More money equals nicer facilities.

Nicer facilities entices better players.

Better players bring more success.

More success brings more money and the pattern simply repeats itself.

Seems simple enough, right? It’s not.

Internal continuity in college sports is difficult. There’s almost always a better job…at a better school…with more money to offer.

“Keeping up the Joneses” isn’t quite good enough.

Even before this news broke, the ‘Cats have been busy down in the Old Pueblo. Last summer it was opening the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility. Now, major renovations to the McKale Center in Tucson.

UofA is simply playing the game.

A game which is much easier to play with almost $18 million.

We’ll see if Byrne, Miller and Rodriguez stick around long enough to cash in.