The UNO athletic department needs to raise 1.5 million dollars quickly, and the man NewOrleans.com calls the “eternal optimist” is leading the charge. George Shinn, owner of the New Orleans Hornets, has not only committed to writing a large check, (an amount he won‘t disclose as of yet,) he has taken it upon himself to speak out and rally community business leaders and UNO supporters to bring in more money to keep the Privateers in play.
Quote: “We are going to write a new chapter in the rich history of UNO athletics. We will assist in season ticket sales and buy season tickets. We will work to get a long-term vision and solution for students to earn a degree and excel in their sports. You have a promise from me--we will get this done!"
Another leader in the fight is former UNO athletic director and head baseball coach Ron Maestri who said "I'll be damned if this is going to go away. As long as I'm here, we're not going to let this go away."
The possibility of another student vote is also not ruled out, if the business sector can pull in the money required to at least spare the program from a full shut-down. UNO Chancellor Tim Ryan said "Sometimes, it takes more than one time around the block to get things done."
Article and video of the press conference here.
Another obstacle for UNO is maintaining their D1 status. Post-Katrina they were granted special exception to remain in division 1 even though they were hosting less than the minimum number of sports teams. The NCAA gave them a five year deadline to rebuild to meet D1 standards, but their current troubles will force UNO to ask for another extension. If that extension is not granted, they will most likely be bumped down to division 2 for all sports.
The Screaming Viking wants to wish Head Coach Randy Horner and all UNO athletes and coaches the best. We are pulling for you. It sounds like all the right people in New Orleans are starting to get involved and make noise. You have friends all over the country who are pulling for you too.