Every now and then you hear the question: Do intercollegiate athletic programs belong in higher education?
It’s a good question, and earlier this month several staff members in our athletic department broached the subject as we look ahead to the next three years in forming our strategic plan.
An interesting point was made that if you go back 100 years, give or take a decade, is when most athletic departments were created on college campuses (more than likely to add to a well-rounded experience). The only professional sports league was major league baseball; otherwise, the likes of boxing, golf, tennis and horse racing dominated the sports pages. The pro sports you enjoy today largely sprung from college roots.
You’ll hear common answers such as "athletics is the front porch" to the university; you can’t put a price tag on the exposure that athletics generates for your school; it creates social experiences, bonding and a break from their studies for the current student body; and it’s almost always the most popular way that alumni connect back to their college and the days they spent turning from teenagers into adults.
But we delved beyond those.
First and foremost, we in athletics are here for the students. Our mission statement clearly states that we will provide a world class and comprehensive student-athlete experience by enhancing our academic, health and wellness, and personal development programs.
Our core values for everyone associated with the athletic program are comprised of five significant points that form the acronym RAPID: Respect (recognize and embrace each individual's unique value to the department); Accountability (take personal responsibility for actions and results); Passion (personal energy that drives work ethic, focus and a need to excel); Integrity (operating in an honest and ethical manner); and Dedication (unwavering loyalty to the department and shared vision).
Our student-athletes also give back to the school and community in more ways than entertaining fans on the fields and courts; last year, they performed almost 3,000 hours of community service.
Family Weekend and Homecoming are in the weeks just ahead, and the football game that is one of the attractions for both offer a great display of pride, enthusiasm and unity. We do believe that we belong and that athletics is an important part of the overall university community.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics