UNCW group to look at athletics
February 6, 2013By Jenny Callison
As part of a thorough assessment of all University of North Carolina Wilmington divisions, Chancellor Gary Miller has initiated a comprehensive review of the university's athletics program, the university announced Wednesday.
Miller, working with UNCW athletic director Jimmy Bass, has appointed an Intercollegiate Athletics Review Committee (IARC) to review the existing portfolio and “explore new ways to support its student athletes, optimize its fiscal health and engage with the community,” according to a release from the university.
Miller said that the committee was free to come up with any recommendations to address its mandate. In a memo to committee members Tuesday, he wrote: “The work of the committee is to examine the sustainability and vitality of each of our nineteen sports programs in comparison with strategic initiatives, fiscal capability, community support and national competitiveness. The outcome of your work shall be recommendations regarding the optimal sports portfolio for UNCW. This may include recommendations to eliminate or add particular sports programs and strategies to ensure all programs have opportunities to achieve national prominence.”
The committee, which will begin work immediately, is made up of faculty, staff and student representatives, as well as members of the UNCW Foundation and board of visitors as appointed by Miller. The group’s recommendations are due to the chancellor and athletic director by mid-May.
“UNCW’s athletics program simply cannot reach its peak level of competitiveness, operational efficiency and community engagement without first taking a hard look at our portfolio and determining where our strengths and weaknesses lie,” Miller said in the release.
“I want the athletic program to have the same standard of excellence as the university’s academic programs, and I support Division I athletics for this university,” Miller added in a phone interview Wednesday. “All universities have to connect and engage with their communities.
“That connection and partnering are even more important today.”
One aspect of UNCW’s strong athletic foundation is its graduation rate, Bass said. The most recent figures show the university graduating 85 percent of its student athletes within six years, Bass said.
“Our graduation rates historically have been very good nationally and within the UNC system,” he said. “We’re within the top four schools in the UNC system.”
UNCW’s announcement of the IARC formation comes on the heels of Miller’s January report to the UNCW board of trustees, in which he stated his commitment to a stronger fundraising infrastructure and more community outreach for the athletics program, according to the release.
Last week, the university announced the hiring of Adam Keen, the athletics program’s first-ever major gifts officer.
Asked how he would apply additional resources, Bass said that his priorities were scholarships, academic support for student athletes, sports medicine, health and well being and operations.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff here,” he said. “We’ve got to give them scholarship resources to recruit talented student-athletes that are going to graduate from UNCW. We need to give them academic support, and we’ve got to take care of them. Those priorities are not going to change.”