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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Athletes admire their banners around campus

    Cornerback Antoine Casons image hangs on a pole near the Cherry Avenue Parking Garage.  Three other football players and one athlete from every other Division-I sport have a banner with their image on it.
    Cornerback Antoine Cason’s image hangs on a pole near the Cherry Avenue Parking Garage. Three other football players and one athlete from every other Division-I sport have a banner with their image on it.

    With more than 37,000 enrolled students, it’s easy to go unnoticed at the UA.

    That is, unless you’re part of a select group of Arizona athletes whose likenesses are portrayed on banners around campus.

    Flapping gently in the breeze, these banners brand the campus as Wildcat country and serve as an advertisement for the Arizona athletics department.

    “”It’s a privilege to be on one of those,”” said Antoine Cason, a junior cornerback on the UA football team. “”I feel great, and also I never thought it would be me on the banners and billboards and all that kind of stuff.””

    About 100 total banners in all feature standout athletes from all of Arizona’s Division-I programs, said Scott MacKenzie, a UA associate athletic director. Four football players appear on multiple banners around campus, although no other sport has more than one athlete displayed.

    This should come as no surprise, as the money comes directly from the football marketing budget and started in 1998 to promote the football team. Former running back Trung Canidate was the first to appear, on a banner bearing the slogan “”You get the tickets, we’ve got the game.””

    After the banners were discontinued for a few years, in 2004-05 there were banners from all the admission-charging sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and gymnastics) and banners representing athletes from every squad last year. MacKenzie said the banners are expensive but not a “”huge piece”” of the advertising budget.

    “”We think it’s worth it for the opportunity to get all sports up there and at the same time sell football tickets,”” he said.

    Even for football players like Syndric Steptoe and Cason, who are used to the bright lights of college football and the attention that comes along, this is quite an honor.

    “”I’ve been here for a long time, and I’ve put in a lot of hard work,”” said Steptoe, a senior wide receiver. “”I feel that that’s a good accomplishment to have your picture around school like that. There’s a lot of motivation behind it too.””

    Steptoe, one of many football players on billboards around town that also advertise season tickets, said he snapped a photo of one of those and sent it to his mother.

    “”Coming from a small town, I never would have expected to have my own billboard and my picture around the school,”” said Steptoe, who is from Bryan, Texas. “”I’m just taking it in. I appreciate the school for doing it.””

    Although Steptoe said the football players always think about things like having banners with their likeness on them, it came as a total surprise to former tennis player Roger Matalonga, who had his banner up as a senior last year.

    “”It was very cool when my family came from Spain and they saw the banner with my picture up there,”” he wrote in an e-mail from Spain. “”They were very happy because imagine for them looking at banners with the picture of their son in another country. It was special for them.””

    Matalonga has since e-mailed the UA marketing department to send him a banner so he can put it up in his room, which he said department officials will do as soon as they get it.

    In the meantime, a number of departments beyond athletics have put up banners advertising their work, such as the Eller College of Management.

    For the athletes, though, there’s nothing like having a mirror image of themselves for all the school to see.

    “”I just smile every time I see it because it shows that I put in a lot of hard work in order to get there,”” Steptoe said. “”It shows that they think a lot of me this year.””

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