The Arizona State University Sun Devils football team could soon be returning to its Camp Tontozona roots.
That’s what came out of a press conference held Thursday, April 19, inside athletic department offices at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
At the conference, Vice President for University Athletics Director Steve Patterson announced the
“Return to Camp T” campaign that will require raising $150,000 to return to Tontozona this year.
If the money is raised by June 1, ASU will conduct its preseason camp Aug. 14 to 18, with the annual fans’ scrimmage on the 18th.
If the fund-raising goal is not met, the money will be used to help the Devils return to Tontozona for the 2013 season.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans also attended the press conference telling the audience Payson would welcome the football team with open arms. He later noted that previous studies showed that the training sessions brought so many people to town that it injected roughly $250,000 per day into the local economy.
The high-profile training camp also generated regional and national stories, which highlighted Payson’s charms in the depths of a Valley summer.
Patterson — in responding to a question from the audience — said the money is needed for upgrades
at Tontozona including installing a video-editing network for coaches, food service, field maintenance and renovation.
ASU hasn’t trained at Tontozona since former coach Dennis Erickson pulled the plug on the university’s scenic mountain retreat in 2008, preferring to train the football team in the $8.4 million Dickey Dome on the Tempe campus.
Newly appointed head coach Todd Graham has taken the opposite position, saying he championed a return to Tontozona partly because it was one of the university’s proudest traditions and the camps will offer players and coaches a chance to focus totally on football away from distractions.
“No cell phones, no Internet, the team-building opportunities, kind of roughing it,” will lead to gridiron success, Graham predicts.
Graham also said returning to Tontozona, where the team trained for 47 years, mostly under legendary coach Frank Kush, was important to former players, alumni and Kush himself.
“I think you should protect the heritage and tradition of the program.”
Graham also hinted he might return the tradition of running players up Mt. Kush located just south of the football field at Tontozona.
Under Kush, players who erred at practice were sent climbing up the nearby mountain as punishment.
Those gut-busting runs are the stuff legends are made of among former players, alumni and others.
The campaign to raise money had to be launched because a return to Camp Tontozona wasn’t in ASU’s budget for the current year.