What They Said: Excerpts From Press Conference Announcing GCU Will Join the WAC
“Why did we do this? … In spite of all the great work by our faculty and our students and our staff, we need to do something to illuminate that work, shine the light on that work so it becomes obvious to people who Grand Canyon University is, what we stand for and where we’re going. That’s why we’re doing this. … There’s no doubt in my mind God is doing something special here. He’s doing something special here and He wants His word proliferated throughout the Southwest, and He wants to do it through us. Being Division I in athletics, and being on television and competing against schools like Notre Dame and UCLA and Arizona State University, this gives us a platform to do that.” – Brian Mueller, president and CEO of GCU.
“The significance of Division I status for Grand Canyon is the following: We have one of the top six cities in the country in terms of population. And this is now the first Division I program in the city of Phoenix, and it happened right here at Grand Canyon.” – Jerry Colangelo, Phoenix sports icon.
“This is just the beginning for the WAC. The significance of (adding GCU) is this is a new beginning for us. We’re starting to rebuild the conference going into the second half century of this league. I have a vision for this conference. Brian (Mueller) has a vision for this university. And I think those two visions are the same. It’s not what’s happening today necessarily, but where are we in five years, where are we in 10 years as a university and as a conference. I think the building blocks here are absolutely tremendous.” – Jeff Hurd, interim commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference
“I am so proud to be able to participate and be here with you on this history-making day for Grand Canyon University. Your invitation today to join the Western Athletic Conference is the next step in this University’s climb to prominence. … This is just the latest achievement for this institution. Your academic programs have a strong reputation, your facilities are state-of-the-art, and GCU athletics, including your basketball team, are known to pack the gym. … Keep doing us proud, and one more thing: Go ’Lopes!” – Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona.
“Phoenix loves our ’Lopes. We love Grand Canyon University. I’m a west-side kid. I grew up just a few miles west of here. I know what an anchor this university is, not only for west Phoenix, but for all of the city of Phoenix and all of the state of Arizona. The success of this university and the success of our city and state go hand in hand.” – Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix.
“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the administration, faculty and students of Grand Canyon University on their invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference for collegiate sports. This is a well-deserved recognition of the commitment and vision of University leaders to creating a first-rate private institution of higher education.” – John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona.
“Councilman Valenzuela knows that, even with today’s great news, and all the University’s advancements, GCU’s commitment to its core mission remains solid: To provide quality academic programs to its students so that they can find their purpose and achieve their potential.” – Wendy Villa, chief of staff for Phoenix councilman Daniel Valenzuela (who was out of the country).
“In the history of this institution, 60-plus years, I’m one of the few people who was around when we were an NAIA institution – an institution that had a great deal of success. We won four national baseball championships during the 1980s, a national tennis championship, three basketball championships in the 15 years preceding that. And there were some leaders at that time who had a vision of what Grand Canyon can become and decided we should become an NCAA Division II member. There were a lot of people who looked upon that move and were doubtful. Why would you leave someplace that is comfortable, someplace where you know your way around , someplace where you are experiencing a good deal of success. Why would you leave that behind? Even I at that time as an assistant athletic asked my boss that very question: Why would we do this. He said for this reason: For what we can become. That to me is an important thing.” — Keith Baker, athletic director at GCU.
“This is a huge rallying point for our student body. I look around I see we’ve got the Thunder Black Ops Edition coming down from the ceiling (Thunder repelling into the Arena), we’ve got Nacho Libre (a vocal member of the Monsoon student section). This is an illustrious student section, wouldn’t you say? … As students that belong to this Grand Canyon University family, we can gather around with each other in support of our student athletes as they perform at a high level, and in support of our school. This is a great day for Grand Canyon.” – Nick Ely, ASGCU student body president.
“For those of us who have been around for a little bit, we have seen GCU grow and change in ways that no other university is experiencing in this country, and that is truly a blessing. With this change, the students, staff, faculty and alumni alike, we all have so much more to be proud of.” – Anthony Mann, former student body president and current GCU staff member.