FLASHBACK: A Real Interview with Fake University President ‘Fantasy Shirley’

This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of MemphiSport.

Last month, MemphiSport sat down with the real University of Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson to discuss the current state of the athletic department and its future. To follow up, we formally requested an interview with University of Memphis president Dr. Shirley Raines. Here was the response from her office:

“President Raines has asked me to let you know that she feels that R.C. covered your athletic questions well. She will keep your request active.”

All of our follow up requests were ignored despite our explanation that the interview would cover a broad range of topics about the university, her career, etc.

So with the real university president out of the picture, we turned to the fake university president on twitter – @fantasyshirley.

Here is our real interview with the fake Dr. Shirley Raines:


Do you consider yourself more of a “Dreamer, Thinker or Doer”? 

I consider myself equal parts Thinker, Dreamer and Doer. Basically what you would use if you were making the ideal person to run a fine university. Take those attributes and sprinkle in a keen fashion sense and you get me!

When is it not a great day to be a Tiger?

The day John Calipari left wasn’t a great day. The day Rick Ross couldn’t make it to Memphis Madness wasn’t great either. The Whopper bar at the UC was out of ketchup one day and that wasn’t a banner day for the Tigers.

Everyone knows athletic director R.C. Johnson is a fan of Elvis. Who is your favorite music artist of all time? 

I would say that is a three way tie between Clay Aiken, Barry Manilow and the 2 Live Crew. But recently I have been jamming out on my iPod to Susan Boyle- that girl throws it down.

You have been president at the University of Memphis since 2001. How long do you plan to continue at your position? 

I want to be the Joe Paterno of university presidents.

You recently set a $250 million dollar goal for fundraising – how much will your salary rise if this goal is ever achieved? 


If someone called you tomorrow and offered $100 million for the university, how would you allocate it? 

I’d build an on-campus stadium…psych!

What is biggest reason to avoid building an on-campus stadium? 

I was for it before I was against it. But because the construction would be really noisy and my house is near the proposed site, I had to say no. Would you want to put up with that mess? Also, Geoff Calkins was for it, so I had to be against it.

If Memphis fielded a badminton squad, would they have better facilities than the football team? 

No, we would just let the football players try their hand at being on the badminton team and they could use the same facilities. Got to work smarter, not harder.

On a scale of 1 to 10 – how important is athletics to you? –


What is your favorite sport? 

Is “Wheel of Fortune a Sport”? If so, that is my favorite. I also enjoy gigging frogs and noodling for catfish. I wanted to be a mathlete, but books were more of my thing. I’m a published author you know.

Why is Memphis not already in a BCS conference? 

We aren’t? Why is R.C. always telling me we are? He said it is because of our airport.

What was your last conversation with R.C. Johnson about?

Oh, I told him about the upcoming Kohl’s One Day Sale and how I was going to stock up on some blue blazers. He asked me if it was okay if he had a hammock installed in his office. We made lunch reservations at Houston’s and then we talked about getting LA Tech, Alcorn State, Belmont and UT Martin together in one conference to go after these so called “super conferences”. We would call it the Mega Mighty Super Duper Conference.

Do you ever talk to the students? If so, what do you say? 


What has been your proudest moment as president of the university?

I starred in a series of commercials for the U of M. “Dreamers Thinkers. Doers” was my line.

What has been your biggest regret as president? 

Not having that John Calipari bronze statue made yet.

Is there something you are trying to accomplish before retirement? 

If I said total destruction of the athletic department, would you keep it off the record?

What do you want your legacy to be? 

I’ll leave that to the historians, but frankly, I’m the best thing that ever happened to this institute of higher learning.

Who would you consider the U of M‘s most important alum? 

Jerry “The King” Lawler. At least he represents something I would consider as a real sport. Wink Martindale also.

Would you consider teaming up with R.C. Johnson to wrestle against Geoff Calkins and Jerry Lawler in a wrestling match for charity? 

Heck yes, but only if we can have it at the Mid-South Coliseum, if Bill Dundee is the special referee and if R.C. and I can be managed by Jimmy Hart. And tell Lawler that he might be the King of wrestling but I am the Queen of Memphis…I’ll be throwing the fire.

Which university property is more important- the English department or the Bursars office?

Please, the Bursar’s Office. Do I really need to tell you why?

What is your favorite building on campus? 

The Ned McWherter Library. Especially the 3rd floor. Cleanest bathrooms on campus.

You were recently offered a job at Kentucky? Why didn’t you take it? 

Can you imagine trying to sell a house in this market…Plus I wanted R.C. to replace Mitch Barnhardt so we could have the gang together again, but the UK Board of Regents said no dice. They called R.C. “a liability?”

Did you paint any of the 100 Tigers around campus? 

I couldn’t risk getting paint on my blue blazer, so no. R.C. sure liked being in the room when they were all being spray painted. He said it really helped him make great decisions. Matter of fact, I think he was around all that painting on the day he said we deserve to be in the SEC.

Would the world be a better place if sports didn’t exist? 

Not just the world, the galaxy.

Kevin Cerrito is the managing editor of MemphiSport and host of MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010 & 2011 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.  You can follow him via Twitter @cerrito.

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