A win-win: Ensuring your athletic program meets your institution’s goals

For many colleges and universities, the need for increased resources is at a fever pitch. Many colleges find themselves in a fierce battle to generate enrollment numbers that will fund the growing program and financial needs of the institution.

The next time you drive down an interstate highway, pay attention to who is advertising on the roadside billboards. The restaurants and auto dealerships we’re used to seeing are now joined by colleges and universities promoting higher education opportunities to prospective students.

Most schools have an athletics program and when properly aligned to the educational mission of the institution, this department can provide significant benefits.

As the need for resources from key areas like tuition and fees continues to escalate, it is imperative that institutions of higher learning ensure that the use and purpose of intercollegiate athletics is consistent with the strategic direction of the overall institution. To maximize this positioning, it’s important that the resources dedicated to intercollegiate athletics be viewed as an investment in the educational process and not merely an annual operating expense. The athletics program should generate an educational “return” that goes well beyond the competitive win and loss records generated by the athletic teams.

For example, what’s most important is that the institution has cultivated and developed student-athletes. That can be evaluated in many ways, primarily through the academic achievements of the students. And while only a few will continue their athletic pursuits at a professional level, all students must be developed to be contributors to society.

The lessons learned through intercollegiate athletics are invaluable and must align with the educational framework of the institution to maximize the learning process. But these lessons require significant resources to provide a defining educational experience to the student-athlete.

As institutions seek to competitively and strategically position themselves for the next generation, the proper integration of athletics is vital to ensuring the institution’s future is going down the correct road and the individual institution’s successes are being seen, both within and outside of an athletic uniform.

Published in Higher Education

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