DENTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The last four years have been some of the most successful for the University of North Texas athletics department.
The Mean Green have combined for the highest winning percentage in all sports in forty years. UNT student athletes have wrapped up four consecutive years of academic success.
This has resulted in the Mean Green bringing in the green. The North Texas athletic department had its best four years of fundraising ever.
It’s no coincidence that those results coincide with the day — July 29, 2016 — that Wren Baker arrived on campus as the UNT director of athletics.
Baker is still a month shy of celebrating his fourth anniversary at UNT.
But, this is no time for celebrations.
Across the country, athletic departments are trying to figure out safe ways to bring back student athletes to campus in the wake of the coronavirus.
North Texas had three football players test positive for the virus during the first phase of bringing back student athletes on campus for voluntary training.
Equally as important to Baker is leading the way for the student athletes in his program to right the wrongs of social injustice.
Five years ago, as the deputy athletic director at the University of Missouri, Baker witnessed first hand as Missouri football players walked out during the season following several racial incidents on campus.
“It’s amazing, the power that comes from hearing, listening and learning,” Baker told CBS 11 Sports. “Putting yourself in someone else’s place. I think so many people in our country are just ignorant… and I don’t mean that in an insulting way. They just don’t know the experience.”
“We all of a role to play,” Baker continued about how he is addressing the issue within his program. “Those of us, who are leaders, regardless of color, cannot ignore the problems that we have anymore. We’ve got to learn, listen and be willing to take action steps, and be bold in leadership. That’s what our student athletes are hungry for, they’re asking for it.”
Baker says locker rooms provide the best examples of how the country can be it’s very best.
“One of the greatest blessings in my life has been the last 20 years I’ve spent in college athletics, which is a very diverse environment. We are one family… we’ve got to replicate that in society.”