What does it take to build a consistent winning program? That’s the question being asked on a daily basis by everyone from athletic directors, to coaches, to business owners. Everyone wants to win, but few possess the ability to draw up the blueprint to make it happen.
Since his arrival in Denton, Texas in July 2016, Wren Baker, Vice President and Director of Athletics at the University of North Texas, has built a program that has ascended out of the doldrums of the NCAA and onto the map. Establishing a long-term presence in the national consciousness is his next challenge, and it might prove to be more difficult than getting them there in the first place.
Baker says it isn’t just one thing, but a combination of factors that has led to the increased success for UNT’s athletic program. When it comes to the football team, hiring the right people, investing in strength and conditioning, and putting a focus on academics have combined to transform the culture around Mean Green football.
“All of those go into the total person and development of the total person,” says Baker. “We believe at North Texas if you’re really committed to build champions and prepare leaders and everything that goes into that, they’re going to have success on the field, on the court, and any competition.”
Harnessing the excitement and potential of a large alumni base like UNT’s is key to the sustainability of the program. Baker knows that to continue expanding the footprint of Mean Green athletics in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and beyond, the over 216,000 alumni of the university have to be engaged and excited about the future UNT athletics.
“I think it’s important to give our fans reasons to proud,” Baker says. “I sensed that, as a whole, our alumni base, they were proud of UNT, but they weren’t necessarily proud of our athletic programs.”
“I tell our coaches that if I can do my job, which is give them resources that are competitive with our peers, which right now is Conference USA and group of five, I believe we can compete for conference championships and be nationally relevant,” he says.
Wren Baker punctuates that statement with a firm confirmation. “I believe that.” That doesn’t sound like the same University of North Texas athletics program that we’ve known in the past. If Baker has his way, those days will be gone for good.
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