Wildcat coaches back in Yuma again
Not every city gets the annual University of Arizona Road Tour to show up at its door every year, but Yuma is an exception.
For the fourth straight year, a cast of coaches — including head football coach Rich Rodriguez, head men's basketball coach Sean Miller and head women's basketball coach Niya Butts — will be at Lutes Casino at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday for pictures, autographs and any questions fans might have.
Jeff Byrd, president of the University of Arizona Alumni Club in Yuma, knows it isn't a coincidence that the Wildcats keep deciding to come back.
“I think it's the enthusiasm and the crowds that we've had,” Byrd said. “The past few years we usually pack Lutes with 200 to 300 folks. As long as Yuma is showing support for the U of A, I think they're doing an outreach to show their appreciation.”
The free event features meet-and-greet opportunities with not only coaches, but athletic director Greg Byrne.
“You're going to get a big inside scoop about what's going on,” Byrd said. “In basketball we have two McDonald's All-Americans coming in, football's turning the corner with Rich Rodriguez and you can talk to Greg Byrne about what he thinks about the overall program.”
The Yuma UA Alumni Association is second in the nation in scholarships raised, giving away $877,000 in scholarships since 1991.
“We want to be the first nonprofit group in Yuma to award over a million dollars in scholarships for local kids to go to U of A,” Byrd said. “We're really proud of that.”
One thing Byrd stressed is that this event isn't just for Arizona alumni — all fans are welcome.
“I think what's neat and unique about this event is what other place are you going to be able to shake hands, take a picture with and get an autograph from a top-flight Division I coach? To get up close and personal with a top-flight Division I coach is pretty rare.”
Prior to the free event at Lutes Casino, Byrne, Butts and Miller will be at the Yuma Community Food Bank on 24th Street from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for a community outreach event.