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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Shelton switches allegiance

    New University of Arizona president Robert Shelton shows off his new Arizona shirt at an alumni breakfast at the Carolina Inn, in Chapel Hill, N.C, Sat. Jan 28, 2006. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat) *TUCSON OUT NO MAGS NO SALES MANDATORY CREDIT*
    Chris Coduto
    New University of Arizona president Robert Shelton shows off his new Arizona shirt at an alumni breakfast at the Carolina Inn, in Chapel Hill, N.C, Sat. Jan 28, 2006. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat) *TUCSON OUT NO MAGS NO SALES MANDATORY CREDIT*

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – When Robert Shelton was informed he was the new UA president, one of his first reactions was, “”How can I get two basketball tickets?””

    Shelton, the former executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was behind the Arizona bench when the Wildcats (13-7, 6-3 Pacific 10 Conference) lost 86-69 to the Tar Heels (12-5) on Saturday. Although Shelton still has a semester’s work to do at UNC, he said he will “”shift his allegiance out West.””

    Athletics is an integral part of a university’s ability to achieve success as well as an important way for the university to connect with the community and the alumni, said Shelton, who played tennis and basketball in high school and has been a soccer referee.

    “”It’s important to try to compete broadly and not be a one-sport school,”” he said.

    Shelton said his understanding of Division I athletics is due in part to his daughter, who played field hockey at Stanford University.

    “”I have a great admiration for student athletes,”” Shelton said.

    In his early days as a professor of physics at Iowa State, Shelton found himself on the opposing side of current Arizona head coach Lute Olson, then a coach at rival Iowa. He remembered fondly the beatings Iowa State took at the time and said he looked forward to meeting with Olson.

    It is only fitting that Shelton now has connections to two of college basketball’s superpowers and was given the job just one day before the first regular-season meeting.

    “”(There’s) one thing in common,”” he said. “”Both schools demand excellence.””

    As for possibly changing the landscape of Arizona athletics, Shelton said he has no such interest.

    “”I’m not someone who comes in and makes changes,”” Shelton said of the current Arizona athletic department.

    Shelton did not directly deal with the UNC athletic department or the athletic director, who reported to the chancellor. However, he was able to view the department’s budget and also led the campus re-certification in accordance with NCAA policy.

    During his visit to Tucson on Jan. 20, Shelton met with Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood, whom he said has “”a very high reputation in athletics.”” Shelton said he was looking forward to working with Livengood and the rest of the Arizona athletic department.

    After answering questions from reporters over the phone Friday, Shelton, in true former athlete form, talked sports and wanted to discuss ways to increase attendance at lower-profile sporting events.

    Shelton said receiving the top Arizona job meant more to him because this was not something he was passive about, but something he truly wanted.

    Just hours after becoming president, Shelton sounded like he wanted to get in the game himself.

    “”I’m pumped,”” he said.

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