A Thank You Letter from Athletics Director Richard Giannini
June 23, 2009
Dear Golden Eagle Fans,
I just wanted to take this time to thank all of our faithful fans for your support of our baseball team last week for the institution's first-ever appearance in the NCAA baseball College World Series following their magical run to be among the final eight schools to play for a national championship in Omaha, Neb.
In media interviews leading up to the event, coach Corky Palmer said that Omaha would see an abundance of Black and Gold to support the Southern Miss baseball team and that certainly was the case.
Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com ranked the best fans in terms of attendance through the first eight games and ranked Southern Miss No. 1. Here is what Mr. Rogers had to say about our diehard fans:
"1) SOUTHERN MISS -- In the spirit of making their first College World Series appearance, the Golden Eagles have brought an army of fans to Omaha. There's no question the Eagles have had the most (fans) through the first weekend here at Rosenblatt Stadium. Pretty impressive display considering the fact Hattiesburg, Miss., is exactly 1,000 miles away."
Alan Hinton of the Hattiesburg American wrote this piece on Golden Eagle fans in Omaha:
"But when the Corky Palmer Express got rolling, the fans jumped aboard. Hundreds, if not 1,000, went to Atlanta and Gainesville. And by the time the black and gold reached Omaha, there may have been 2,000 USM fans at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, from all over the country, many having traveled 1,000 miles or more.
"They were at the hotels and the restaurants, at stores and gas stations, but most importantly, they were at the stadium, rooting for their favorite team. They were everywhere. All wearing black and gold.
"Hattiesburg American photographer George Clark, a day after USM lost to North Carolina, asked a vendor at Rosenblatt Stadium about sales of t-shirts, caps and other souvenirs. The vendor said Southern Miss fans came with open pocketbooks, and bought just about everything they had to sell with the school's name on it."
That is a tribute to our fans which have supported not only baseball, but our entire athletics program. We certainly want to thank all of you who went to Omaha as well as everyone who supports all of our athletics programs.
The magical run also helped end a fitting coaching career for Corky Palmer, who announced his retirement at the end of April. Certainly, no one at that time expected us to reach the pinnacle of college baseball, but the heart and strength of a group of young men helped this program do just that and give their coach one heck of a retirement present.
As we move forward, we ask for your continued support as the lifeblood of our athletics program is through season tickets and Eagle Club donations. As we close our fiscal year on June 30, we hope that you will help with our student-athlete scholarship accounts by renewing your Eagle Club membership. It is extremely important that we receive your Eagle Club payment by June 30 to help with our current scholarship shortfall.
We are expecting big things from our football program this fall. The Phil Steele College Football website has the Golden Eagles ranked No. 27 in their Top 40 poll and Graham Watson, who blogs for ESPN.com for Conference USA and other conferences, had this to say about the Golden Eagles as we head into the season with a five-game winning streak and a 30-27 overtime victory over Troy in the New Orleans Bowl.
"The Golden Eagles have steadily been pulling some of the better recruits out of the area and now they believe they can win under Larry Fedora's tutelage. Southern Miss ended the season on a five-game winning streak, including a win in the New Orleans Bowl, to earn yet another winning season. I think the Golden Eagles have a legitimate shot at challenging for the C-USA East title."
As you can tell the enthusiasm for all Golden Eagle sports continues to be at an all-time high and for those of you who do help and support us we are forever thankful and for those of you who are not, we ask that you come join us as we continue to build and grow our athletics program.
And as always, Southern Miss To The Top,
Director of Athletics
University of Southern Mississippi