What a ride!

I had the opportunity to attend the Final Four in Indianapolis and cheer as our Badgers men’s basketball team marched to the NCAA national championship game.

Although we didn’t get the ending we all hoped for, this team captured the nation’s imagination for more than what they have accomplished on the court. They were a disciplined team that embodied what it means to be a student athlete at UW–Madison.

They combined great athletic success, academics, and service to their community with a spirit of fun. I’m excited about everything they’ve done for America’s vocabulary. At the same time, they’ve represented us with class and grace.

This was the 17th consecutive trip to the Big Dance for the men’s team. That is an extraordinary achievement … only three other schools in the nation have had longer NCAA streaks. It’s all the more remarkable considering the total number of NCAA Tournament appearances for UW between 1948 and 1993 was … zero.

The skill that Coach Ryan and his dedicated staff bring to building students into extraordinary athletes, and the skill with which they mold those extraordinary athletes into a winning team, is unmatched in this nation.

The skills that our student-athletes learn serve them well long after they leave our university. Coach Ryan refers to them as life skills, and he’s right.

Even with a loss in the final minutes, this team will be remembered as our best basketball team of all time. We are all lucky to have experienced one of the most exciting runs in Badger sports history.