Badger legend Pat Richter ’64, JD’71 will deliver the charge to graduates at the Winter 2012 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, December 16, 2012. Here, the former Wisconsin athletic director and Class of 1963 reunion committee member talks about important Badger traditions — both on the field and off — and shares some words of wisdom for young alumni.
Richter says everyone was excited when current athletic director and former Wisconsin football head coach Barry Alvarez agreed to coach the 2013 Rose Bowl after the recent departure of head coach Bret Bielema.
“The team captains made a wise move in asking him [Barry Alvarez] if he would return to the sidelines for the game. Given the fact that he has a perfect 3-0 record in his three previous Rose Bowl appearances, this is great news for Badger fans everywhere.”
Badger Athletics: Uniting Alumni and Fans
Richter, who was a first-round NFL draft pick, played for the Washington Redskins for eight seasons after graduating from UW-Madison.
“After spending several years playing ball out east, I was better able to understand the value of a successful athletics program. It’s a window to the university, really — it opens the door to learn more about the business school, or the School of Education, or important research. As you get farther away from Madison, a strong program gives you a certain amount of bragging rights … It makes for common ground.”
Favorite Badger Fan Traditions
“Tailgating, the aura of the game, people gathering together … it’s a tremendous, long-standing tradition for Wisconsin football.
“I also know ‘Jump Around’ has also become very important. When I was athletic director, I actually put a stop to it for one game due to construction and my concern for the safety of the fans. My God — the emails and letters and phone calls I got! It was just one game, but it was clear the tradition was ingrained in everyone’s psyche. Even opposing players get in on the fun on the sidelines.”
His time as a UW-Madison student
Richter lettered in football, basketball and baseball, “which didn’t leave a lot of time for outside activities, but I made a lot of friends on those teams. It was a pretty simple life back then.”
What about UW-Madison hasn’t changed since you attended in the early 1960s?
“The UW’s reputation of offering a quality education taught by quality professors is the same, if not better.”
Advice for graduating seniors and young alumni
“Be flexible. It’s all about being where you’d like to be, doing what you enjoy doing. There’s no room, especially in this economy, to be rigid or one-dimensional about one direction or career path.”