Fresno State AD Jim Bartko Addresses Fans in Letter to Red Wave

Fresno State AD Jim Bartko addresses the media at a press conference. (Keith Kountz/Fresno State Athletics)

By Jim Bartko
Fresno State Athletic Director

Red Wave,

In my first year and a half back home in the Valley, I have met so many Bulldog fans who passionately support our program. I am very thankful to everyone who has been there for our student-athletes, coaches and staff as we work to ensure our athletic and academic programs are rising together.

This past Saturday, there was a special moment that really showed how college athletics can be such a powerful platform. This summer, Nebraska punter Sam Foltz passed away tragically in a car accident. There is no way to put to words the impact of losing a teammate and son.

I am very proud of how our team decided to honor Sam’s life by wearing “SF” helmet stickers, and how, as much as we expect to win and compete at the highest level, coach DeRuyter made the call to decline the delay of game penalty Nebraska took in honoring Sam with a missing-man formation.

We have heard from thousands of Nebraska fans, college football fans and Bulldog fans about how much they appreciate the class shown by our team during this game. It will always be our goal to win championships, but we can and will do so with great sportsmanship and respect.

As our team and staff prepare for our home football opener, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to buy a ticket for Saturday’s game. The Red Wave has led the Mountain West over the past four years combined in football attendance and these tickets are just what is needed to continue to build our community.

We have a bold President and a bold vision for the future. Our Bulldog Stadium renovation project is off to a great start and we are close to being able to announce the architect for the major part of the renovation. This season, fans will see new signage and branding throughout the stadium, which celebrates our Valley and how we are Bulldog Born and Bulldog Bred.

Our volleyball team has had a strong start to the year, and our women’s soccer team returns home on a winning streak. The hard work of our student-athletes athletically and in the classroom should make all Bulldog supporters proud.

I want to congratulate Dr. Castro, the university faculty and staff, and students for earning a Top 25 ranking from Washington Monthly. This distinction recognized Fresno State for its successes in social mobility, research and service, and the group of schools included in the ranking are among the most elite in the nation.

This summer, we also welcomed three new head coaches – Natalie Benson (women’s water polo), Linda Garza (softball) and Troy Steiner (wrestling) – to our Bulldog family. Natalie, Linda and Troy have all been great ambassadors for our department.

I look forward to seeing the Red Wave come out strong this weekend and Go ‘Dogs!

Jim

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