SGA takes interest in SBU athletics plan
By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (Oct. 31) — “Your teams—our extraordinary future” became the main focus during the biweekly St. Bonaventure University Student Government Association meeting last night.
Steve Watson, athletic director, presented the St. Bonaventure University Athletic Department Strategic Outline to begin the hour- and fifteen-minute-long meeting.
“St. Bonaventure’s a special place,” Watson said. “We don’t need all those bells and whistles to be able to play at a high level; we’ve already proven that. But by putting a foot on the same level as our competitors, the sky is the limit for our teams, our coaches and for our school.”
Three separate athletic fields comprising of one complex makes up part of the strategic plan.
“Imagine looking behind the Reilly Center and seeing a huge, distinct athletic complex,” Watson said. “Three separate fields: baseball, soccer, lacrosse and softball. All with lights, press boxes, and seating for hundreds to come out and watch the Bonnies play in the Atlantic 10.”
The fields, all made of artificial turf, would also be used for more than just Division 1 athletics.
“Picture the students coming out to participate in intramural competitions, flag football championships on a Friday night under the lights, our rugby team competing on Saturday afternoon on artificial turf,” said Watson.
Watson envisions the complex also being used by area youth and high school teams.
In addition to the outdoor athletic complex, the plan calls for a pool to be attached to the Richter Center and also a renovated Reilly Center.
These plans include the natatorium to be used both for recreational and for competitive activities.
The Reilly Center would get a decent amount of renovations and most notably, a state-of-the-art video board to hang right above center court.
Increased enrollment makes up a major component of the plan. In order to successfully and properly accomplish these goals, the university needs to have more revenue. Generous donations from alumni and outside organizations will also be a component the plan calls for, said Watson.
All eight parts of the plan include:
*NCAA & A-10 rules compliance
*Athletics facilities and academic services
*Annual revenue (sponsorships/ticket sales)
*Enrollment and retention
While Watson expects fundraising for the outdoor complex to be completed relatively soon ($1 million towards the $2.84 million total), the total cost for the entire facilities needs is currently at $18.8 million.
The outdoor complex project is expected to begin in November.
Watson said one of the most disappointing parts of being a smaller school is watching a successful coach leave for another job that pays better and makes his or her job easier by offering more scholarships.
His goal is to have every head coach being paid full time. In addition, he wants to add 20 more coaches. Currently, the baseball team has two coaches whereas most A-10 teams have four or five.
The comprehensive plan is the result of years of research by an outside organization. Recently, the organization formed a committee of different administrators and staff from Bonaventure to come up with the a new direction.
The plan, a piece of the larger, “Becoming Extraordinary, 2015” was accepted by the Board of Trustees last June.
Watson hopes to maintain 240-250 student-athletes a year (14% of the student body).
A crucial part of finding these kids and keeping them at Bonaventure is the facilities. Watson said the majority of the A-10 has made substantial improvements such as George Washington—it paid $43 million for a new basketball facility. (The Colonials finished nine spots behind the Bonnies in the A-10 last year)
In addition to competing with other conference schools, Watson said Bonaventure has to compete with high school complexes that are becoming very expensive.
Watson said it is currently not known how significant the increase in student fees would be.
A significant obstacle spring teams have to continuously overcome is the fact that the players on the team have to fundraise for their own spring training trip down South and their own equipment. Watson said that is extremely rare for a Division 1 program.
“It’s not just about athletics,” Watson said. “It’s not even just about the university. It’s about the community. It’s about the alumni, bringing back support from our alumni. And not just the student-athletes but the students in general.
“What I’m trying to convey to you is where we see ourselves five years from now.”
Once Watson left the floor, the 2016 SGA freshmen officers were inducted. SGA president Cody Clifford led them during the swearing in.
Afterwards, six campus clubs presented to the SGA officers: SBU for Life, Mountain Community Leaders, Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Search Retreat Team (SEARCH), Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and the Knights of Columbus.
In other news, Robbie Chulick, SGA executive secretary, announced that Brown & White Night will be Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:45 p.m. Immediately afterwards, Senior 200 days will take place in the Rathskeller.