Forty Acres Insider: July 28

Greetings Longhorn Nation,

What a joy it was hearing the crack of the bat and bouncing of the ball as Major League Baseball and the WNBA began their seasons last weekend. The NBA and NHL are up next later this week while NFL teams are officially reporting for training camps across the country as we speak. That includes so many of our former Longhorn greats, and as I’ve said many times before, sports in our country have always been such a unifying and motivating force. It brings people together, no matter where we’re cheering from, and our country really needs that right now. We realize there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome, but certainly can feel the positive energy and are enjoying the much-needed entertainment the games, stories and highlights are providing.

We’ll be following closely the progress of the professional leagues and all the efforts they’re making. How they handle the challenges that arise will be critical experiences and examples to learn from as we manage our plans for sporting events this fall. We, of course, are continuing to move forward ourselves as we have developed and implemented safety protocols in handling the on-boarding and training of our student-athletes in Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Volleyball with Soccer returning this week, but we’re so grateful for the professional sports leagues. They’re blazing the trail and providing us critical and extremely valuable information to study as we plan and prepare for the safest environment possible with the kickoff of our fall seasons on the horizon.

Return to the 40 Update

Last Friday, Coach Herman and our Football program began the next phase of their preparations for the 2020 season. They are now allotted 20 hours per week of activities, which include walk-throughs and meetings. I stopped by the workouts and what a pleasant sight it is to see the team and coaches hard at work and following all of our guidelines and protocols. All workouts continue to be in small groups and outside at Frank Denius Fields, but progress definitely continues to be positive as we move forward toward the season and the official opening of preseason training camp and full practice slated for August 7. As always, we remain keenly focused on the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. All of our protocols and procedures are being closely monitored under the guidance of our medical professionals.

With that said, we continue to test our Football student-athletes once a week as they progress into mandatory team activities. That testing will increase to twice a week as we head into training camp and the season. The number of student-athletes testing positive or being identified in contact tracing has dropped dramatically in the past weeks as universal facial coverings, social distancing, and enhanced hygiene have taken hold. If you want to get a good look at everyone on a football team putting facial coverings to proper use, check out the photo below from Monday. Currently, there are zero active infections among our Football student-athletes so none of them are in self-isolation. In addition, we have implemented routine surveillance testing of our Volleyball and Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams with similar results, and there are zero active infections and no one in self-isolation among our on-boarded student-athletes in those sports at this time either. Our Soccer team is on-boarding this week. We are continually amazed and encouraged by the commitment our student-athletes demonstrate as we progress through the phases of team activities in the safest manner possible. That’s positive news as we further instill and support health and safety in this new environment for our student-athletes.

Last week, essential Men’s and Women’s Basketball coaches and support staff returned to campus as student-athletes transitioned into an allotment of eight hours of instructional work inside Denton A. Cooley Pavilion. The eight hours include a maximum of four hours on court with coaches and a maximum of four hours under the supervision of the strength and conditioning staff. That schedule will continue for the duration of this summer’s academic session.

Volleyball student-athletes on-boarded a couple of weeks ago and continue their voluntary off-season workouts as they prepare for their preseason training camp that is set to start on August 7. All Soccer student-athletes began their on-boarding program on Sunday and start all workout activities outside at Myers Stadium on August 4. The Student-Athlete and Staff Return to Campus task forces utilized similar policies and procedures as the four programs prior to safely support Soccer’s activities.

The Facilities & Game Day Logistics Committee remains hard at work developing policies and procedures for hosting Football and other sports this fall pursuant to CDC, state, local and Big 12 Conference health and safety guidelines. We’ve shared the information we know at this point, but will continue to do so, as we expect more to become available in the coming weeks.

Football Season Ticket Holders Email

Thanks to all of you who responded to our season ticket holders 2020 Texas Football Intention Survey email last week. Your information is invaluable to us as we prepare to best serve you for the many scenarios we face heading into the Football season. Our staff will be reaching out to each of you over the coming weeks to follow up on your answers. As we’ve said many times, and it bears repeating, we cannot thank you enough for your support. Your investment in Texas Athletics is invaluable, you are the lifeblood of our program and we are so grateful for each and every one of you. We absolutely appreciate your patience during this unprecedented time and please know that as we continue working toward hosting sporting events this season, our number one priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans. We are currently working closely with our medical team and health care professionals to prepare an extensive list of guidelines we will be implementing to establish the safest environment possible at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium and all of our sporting events this fall. Our plans coordinate everything from social distancing practices for fans upon arrival on campus to getting to your seat, contactless transactions, frequently washing hands, the use and availability of hand sanitizers and wearing facial coverings to protect yourself and those around you. We will continue to build out our plans, list of best practices, polices, procedures and gameday and game week preparations focused on the health and well-being of everyone in attendance. Stay tuned to all of our platforms as we will follow up and provide updates as soon as we have them. Gamedays are a thrill for all of us, and we’re doing everything in our power to be equipped and ready to make them enjoyable for all of our loyal and dedicated fans.

Friday is Deadline for Season Ticket Renewals for Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Volleyball

A few weeks ago our staff emailed renewal information to current season ticket holders in Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Volleyball. We will be accepting renewals through this Friday, July 31 for these three sports. If for whatever reason you did not receive the email, you may visit your online account and renew at or call our Ticket Sales and Services team at 512-471-3333. Payment plan options along with safety updates and mobile ticketing information are included in the correspondence that you have received. Longhorn Nation, we are so appreciative of your investment in our department!

More Football Preseason Honors

Last week, we listed a whole bunch of preseason football honors and knew there would be more coming. Well, they certainly did! A big congrats goes out Sam Ehlinger, who added watch list recognition from both the Maxwell Award (nation’s top player) and the Wuerffel Trophy (combines on-field, community and academics), D’Shawn Jamison, who was named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list (most versatile player), and the Aussie, Ryan Bujcevski, who was named the Ray Guy Award watch list (top punter). Keep ’em coming guys!

Big 12 Football Virtual Media Day coming on Monday, Aug. 3

Prior to the start of our official fall Football camp on Friday, August 7, the Big 12 Conference hosts its revamped 2020 Virtual Football Media Day on Monday, August 3. Originally scheduled for two days (July 20-21), it will now focus on the league’s head football coaches and give fans an opportunity to get the latest on their Longhorns and all the programs across the Big 12. The full schedule will be released in the coming days, but mark your calendar for Monday afternoon to hear from Coach Herman. We will share all the details across our Texas Athletics platforms when we have them so keep your eyes out for that.

The Latest on the South End Zone project

I am truly amazed every time I stop by Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to check out the progress of our South End Zone project. It’s really taking shape and you can see those LED panels filling in for the massive, high-tech video board that will be rockin’ and rollin’ this season. Check it out, you can also see the Longhorn silhouette around the tunnel forming too! It’s so cool, and we’re beyond grateful for all of those who made this and our many facility upgrade projects happen and all of your continued support of Texas Athletics. You all are the wind beneath our wings! Click on our link HERE to see the up-to-the-minute progress with our live webcam. | The Moody Center Construction webcam is a great follow as well.

Hammer named 2019-20 Second Wave Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar

Congrats to Men’s Golf sophomore Cole Hammer who was honored as a Second Wave Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar for his success on the course and in the classroom this past year. Cole finished the season with a 71.68 average score through 19 rounds of competition. He had two top-10 finishes in the shortened season, finishing tied for ninth at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite and fourth at the East Lake Cup – Stroke Play. Hammer also has a 3.54 GPA in corporate communications.

Men’s and Women’s Tennis Recognized as ITA All-Academic Teams

It’s yet another example of how well our student-athletes have adjusted to such unique circumstances in the learning environment – congratulations to our Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams for being recognized as ITA All-Academic Teams, as they were on Monday. It means both squads had collective GPAs over 3.2, and we couldn’t be prouder of them. Both had national championship-caliber seasons cut short, but were able to keep their focus in the virtual classroom. The ITA also named individual Scholar-Athletes who reached a 3.5 GPA. Four of our Men (Nevin Arimilli, Cleeve Harper, Eliot Spizzirri and Eshan Talluri) and five of our Women (Adri Nagy, Marta Perez Mur, Lexi Ryngler, Lulu Sun and Bianca Turati) reached that mark, so an especially big Hook ‘Em goes out to them. I’ve said it before, but we can’t thank our student services staff enough for their work and dedication during these unique times.

Big Shoutout to Sam Ehlinger

I want to take a moment to give a big shoutout, Hook ‘Em and round of applause to Sam Ehlinger. We are so lucky to have such an impactful, caring and servant-leader as our quarterback. What he did in raising almost $200,000 through his COVID-19 fundraising efforts will be life-changing for so many of those in our community and around our great state. Sam, thanks for being such an awesome student-athlete, pillar of our community and amazing young man!

Marquise Goodwin: Our Proud UT Graduate

Another shoutout, emphatic Hook ‘Em Horns and congratulations is in order to our Longhorn Legend, Olympian and NFL veteran Marquise Goodwin, who returned to school and officially completed his degree this semester. Marquise started the process of finishing up his classwork a couple of years ago and diligently progressed toward completing it. We’re so proud of him for taking it to the finish line and earning that UT diploma and his T-Ring! Marquise, you epitomize everything we stand for and are such a fabulous representative of the Pride and Winning Tradition of the Texas Longhorns!

Sanya Richards-Ross: An Awesome Read from a Longhorn Legend

If you’re looking for some powerful words and motivation, take a moment to read this one from The Players Tribune. At a time when the world was scheduled to celebrate the start of the 2020 Olympics, what an eloquent, inspiring and heartfelt message from our very own Sanya Richards-Ross to all Olympians, Olympic hopefuls, as well as those of us who love to watch them compete. Our Longhorn Legend, National Champion, Hall of Honor member and Olympic Champion never fails to deliver, and she certainly does once again in this piece. Thanks for sharing your trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphant victory in this wonderful message for everyone, especially during these difficult times. Though our 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed until next year leaving a huge void in our sports calendar, we will get through this together and make 2021 a truly awesome worldwide celebration!

We’re so grateful for how our student-athletes and coaches have learned, grown and developed in handling the challenges of preparing for their seasons during this health crisis. We knew we would see some ups and downs, but there is an extraordinarily positive energy and resolve among all of them that is truly invigorating. I get the same feeling from so many I talk to in Longhorn Nation, as well. Let’s continue to pull together, take care of one another, stay positive and be ready to reunite, get our Horns up, cheer loudly and celebrate everything Texas as soon as we can!

Stay safe, be healthy and Hook ‘Em Horns,

Chris del Conte signature

P.S. – A little comic relief for you! For all of us who grew up in the 80’s, a quick personal indulgence as an all-time movie classic turned 40 last week (July 25, 1980). So, in closing the Forty Acres Insider, here’s to a true GOAT and one of the funniest films ever. Happy Birthday Caddyshack!

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