Murray State brought all the hardware, and Ja Morant (sort of) to the Hopkinsville Sportsplex on Tuesday afternoon to give the alumni from Murray State a show of what all has been done in the past year.
"The Racer Roadshow" stopped into Hopkinsville and University President Bob Jackson and Director of Athletics Kevin Saal stepped up to speak to MSU alums, as well as current and prospective students about the success 2019-20 both academically and athletically.
Saal, who began his time as athletic director in March, has had his goals set from day one: developing student-athletes both on the field and in the classroom, preparing them for the future.
"We believe strongly in developing our student-athletes as students, as people and as players," Saal said. "From a student standpoint, we were excited to continue our streak of 30 consecutive semesters of a 3.0 GPA or better for all 350 of our student-athletes.
"From a person standpoint, we spend a lot of time in the community and we're looking forward to expanding that. If anybody in this room has any opportunities for us to get involved in some community service with our student-athletes and our athletics department, we'd love to be able to do that in Hopkinsville. We currently do things with the Special Olympics and United Way and we'd love to expand that and serve our community."
Saal also made sure to give all in attendance an idea of all the success the athletics department has had this season -- which in this case completed something that hadn't been done in the 21st century.
"As players, it's been well documented," Saal said. "We're coming off a year with seven championships, which is the first time we've done that since 1991-92 -- very excited about that. That parlayed into NCAA participation for us -- so achieving points in our National Director's Cup. There are 347 Division-I schools in the nation, and the Racers finished 100th out of 347 schools. We were ahead of several Power Five and several Group of Five schools and really achieved well.
See Saal/Page B3
"We also won the OVC Commissioner's Cup for the first time in 10 years as the most competitively successful athletics program in the OVC."
Jackson and Saal both believe it's best for the student-athletes to be their best on the field, but also get them to be the best in whatever they choose to do in life, whether it be in athletics or something else.
Saal said he and his staff have a plan in place to do just that.
"Why we do what we do is routing our young people in an intentional path to connect them to jobs in their professional careers," he said. " Regardless of their athletic pursuits, they're going to go professional in one of three ways. They're going to go directly into the workforce, to a professional school, and for a small percentage, they're going to go into professional athletics.
"It's really important for us to connect young people to jobs, so we're developing an intentional pathway called the Racer Road. As freshman, sophomore, junior, senior -- we have key performance indicators and metrics that we want them to hit."