Troy AD to spend time with former players in NYC

Published 10:54 pm Monday, December 3, 2012

Troy Athletic Director John Hartwell took some time while in New York City for the 55th Annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner to visit with a few former Trojans.

Osi Umenyiora, Jerrel Jernigan and Lawrence Tynes have several things in common. They are all members of the New York Giants, they all wear Super Bowl championship rings and they are all alumni of Troy University.

In an effort to cultivate better relationships with former athletes, Hartwell will meet with the trio on Tuesday.

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“I want them to get comfortable with me and want them to get an idea for the vision of the program,” Hartwell said. “I want them to know if there is anything we can do for them we will.”

Tynes told Hartwell, who came to Troy from the University of Mississippi, that current Giants quarterback and former Ole Miss standout Eli Manning praised the work Troy’s AD had done while with the Rebels.

Hartwell has openly laid out a plan for improving all aspects of Troy athletics mainly the north end zone project, which he hopes to discuss with the stars.

Hartwell said that one of the things he is charting is the implementation of a T-Club weekend every spring. The event will coincide with Troy’s spring game and in 2013 there are home baseball and softball games scheduled as well. There are also plans to include a T-Club area in the north end zone facility so that former letter-winners can return to their alma mater with their families and enjoy the Troy game day experience with other former Trojans.

“We have to do a better job of reaching out and cultivating our former athletes, our T-Club members. We need to make those former student-athletes feel welcome to come back,” Hartwell said. “We need to spread the word of Troy athletics and what better ambassadors than those who have left their blood, sweat and tears on our various fields of play.”

Former athletes are not the only ones on Hartwell’s radar. He hopes to enhance the tailgating experience that was once extremely popular at Troy football games. Over the years, some have complained, tailgating has become more difficult.

“I think we definitely have to look at opportunities again. We don’t want to throw up road blocks, we want to create an environment that is welcoming to folks,” Hartwell said. “As I look at the new intramural fields and the McKinley lot, I think there are some opportunities to put some RV hookups and additional tailgating areas. I want some place that is inviting and friendly to folks.”

Hartwell went on to say that traditions are very important and even mentioned bringing back the Trojan Princess who roamed the boundaries of Veterans Memorial Stadium for many years.

“I am excited about the future of this program,” Hartwell said.