Tontozona-Touchdown!

ASU reportedly raises enough money to guarantee training at Rim Country camp

ASU Football

ASU Football Photo by Max Foster. |

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The Arizona State University Sun Devils football team will reportedly officially announce its return to Camp Tontozona sometime today, June 1, at a press conference on the school’s campus in Tempe.

Although ASU spokesperson Kevin Miniefield, himself a former Sun Devil football star, wouldn’t say officially the return is a done deal, all indications are the school has raised the $150,000 it needs to return to the scenic mountain retreat.

“Fund-raising is going very well,” Miniefield said. “We are optimistic that we will reach our goal.”

On May 23, ASU announced it had raised just under $133,000.

On April 19, at a hastily called news conference inside Sun Devil Stadium, ASU launched the “Return to Camp T” campaign by asking supporters to come up with the money needed to send the Devils to Tontozona from Aug. 12 to 18.

If the return becomes a reality today, the team will hold a public scrimmage on Aug. 18.

The Sun Devils first began training at Tontozona in 1959 under legendary coach Frank Kush.

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Throngs of ASU football fans would visit Rim Country each summer to watch the Sun Devils’ preseason training. New coach Todd Graham hopes to renew that Camp Tontozona tradition.

The tradition continued through 2007 when then-coach Dennis Erickson held his first and only training camp at Tontozona. In 2008, Erickson abandoned the long tradition of training at Tontozona in favor of practicing in the Verde Dickey Dome, an $8.4 million indoor facility on the school’s Tempe campus.

That year, Erickson threw protesting fans, former players and supporters a bone by taking the Sun Devils to Tontozona for a one-day stay and scrimmage.

The team, however, has not returned since.

ASU fired Erickson as head coach at the conclusion of the 2011 season and replaced him with Todd Graham, who apparently listened to fans’ requests to return to the mountain camp located just east of Kohl’s Ranch.

“Camp Tontozona is one of the famous icons of the history of college football,” Graham said. “I want to take my first team there.”

Kush remembers the traditions of Tontozona well, “The first thing we did was climb that mountain (Mt. Kush) as a group. Then we got to the top and the rookies sang their high school fight song. I thought the whole concept started us out with a lot of togetherness.”

While most all associated with the football program yearned for a return to the camp, ASU didn’t include Tontozona in its budget.

Because the camp needed repairs and upgrades, ASU officials launched the fund-raising effort with a June 1 deadline.

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