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A Message from the Athletic Director: December 2020

Hurricane Fans,

This has been a challenging year in many aspects. But as we close this holiday season and turn the calendar to 2021, it makes me appreciate even more how much our Canes Family has come together to support our efforts as we navigate college athletics through a pandemic.

Our student-athletes have excelled in competition and in the classroom while following our health and safety protocols. Our coaches have demonstrated tremendous strength, leadership and compassion in guiding their teams. Our staff has worked long hours and assumed new roles and responsibilities to ensure we can operate safely. And our Canes fans continue to provide the energy and enthusiasm we need to keep going, no matter where they might be cheering from.

Our football team provided a great example of that perseverance and resiliency — from their first summer workouts to the final snap of the season. The Canes finished with an 8-3 record after a hard fought, 37-34 loss to Oklahoma State in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando. Manny Diaz’s squad made tremendous strides over the previous season and the future looks even brighter as the Canes welcome a 2021 recruiting class that is ranked in the Top 10 nationally.

Quarterback D’Eriq King, who last week announced he was returning to UM for the 2021 season, suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of the bowl game and will undergo surgery. D’Eriq is a terrific young man and a tremendous leader who means so much to our football program. We all know he will tackle his rehabilitation with the same determination, effort and spirit he has displayed since he arrived at UM.

Kicker Jose Borregales, who connected on 20 of 22 field goal attempts and all 37 extra points this season, was named a first-team All-American this week by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association and Sporting News. Defensive end Jaelan Phillips also earned first-team All-American honors from the AFCA and second-team honors from the AP and the FWAA. Punter Lou Hedley garnered second-team AP All-American accolades. Congratulations to all three Hurricanes on their well-deserved national recognition!

Our men’s basketball team (4-3) has been forced to deal with numerous injuries to begin its season but continues to battle as you would expect from a squad coached by Jim Larrañaga. The Canes nearly rallied from a 17-point, second half deficit at No. 24 Virginia Tech earlier this week before falling 80-78. Next up is a home game against Clemson on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Watsco Center. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Florida. Tune into to root on the Canes!

Our women’s basketball squad returns to action on New Year’s Eve, hosting Notre Dame at Watsco Center at 1 p.m. on ACCN. Senior guard Kelsey Marshall is averaging a team-leading 14.5 points for Katie Meier’s squad, which is 4-2 on the young season and seeking its second conference win. Good luck to the Canes!

As a reminder, we continue to work with medical experts, University leadership, and state and local government officials to finalize an attendance policy for home basketball games at Watsco Center and hope to have an announcement soon.

Nineteen student-athletes, representing nine of our teams, graduated in December. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication displayed by these outstanding student-athletes, especially during a year that presented such unique academic and athletic challenges. I can’t wait to see where their life’s journey takes them from here. I also want to commend our academic services staff for all their efforts in helping our young people achieve their dreams. Congratulations to all!

We recently launched the 2021 Hurricane Club Student Impact Fund annual campaign, which offers a great way to make an immediate impact and help ensure that we support our student-athletes athletically, academically and culturally for years to come. Gifts to the Student Impact Fund support scholarships, academic services, medical care and comprehensive well-being, nutritional programs, and leadership development. For more information on the how you can help us Build Champions by supporting the Student Impact Fund, please call the Hurricane Club at 305-284-6699 or visit www.UHurricaneClub.com.

Earlier this month, the ACC announced that current Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips will succeed John Swofford as the conference’s Commissioner in February 2021. I have known Jim for many years as we worked closely together when I succeeded him as Chair of the NCAA Division I Council in 2017. I think he is a terrific choice for our conference going forward.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, please feel free to contact a member of our staff. For the latest information on UM Athletics, please be sure to visit our website — miamihurricanes.com – download our Miami Hurricanes app or follow us on our various social media channels. I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Happy New Year and enjoy this month’s magazine!

Go Canes!

Blake James