Clarion University hosts athletic task force to better athletic department

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The Clarion University athletic task force, which comprises of athletes, coaches, staff and alumni brought up ideas and suggestions for solving the challenges facing CUP athletics in its second of three meetings on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Gemmell 250/252.
The meeting, which was planned to be held in Gemmell 248, was held in the room adjacent to it to accomodate more attendees. Approximately 80 people were in attendance.
The first part of the meeting was filled with suggestions on season passes and ideas to raise funds for attending games.
One idea brought up was to sell season passes as fundraisers and to give an incentive, such as a prize to the athlete who sells the most. Other ideas included a varsity club and a club where families could use athletic facilities provided by the university.
“A kids club idea is something that we’ve been tossing around for a while, so it’s good to know there’s interest there,” said Wendy Snodgrass, who is the task force’s convener.
The task force was created after the release of the university’s Work Force Plan last fall in order to assess the athletic department’s financial situation, and how to face challenges the department is facing.
“We realize and understand there is a lack of success in the overall athletic department,” said task force member and volleyball coach Jennifer Mills. “There have been rumors out there that we’re cutting sports. Our attempt is to not cut sports. Our attempt is to make our current programs thrive and continue to build off our continued success.”
One positive aspect the athletic department has though is its retention and graduation rate.
Task force member and former CUP athlete Melissa Bauer says the retention rate among athletes at the university is 89 percent as compared to the university’s 79 percent retention rate and 66 percent for the graduation rate.
“I think the best thing we can do with this task force is to focus on recruitment, retention and graduation rates for the athletes, and how we can effectively help bring people to the university, how we can retain you once you’re here and then how we can get you graduated,” said Bauer.
Bauer said research she conducted said employers look for critical thinking skills like the ones used on a basketball court.
Another issue brought up was engaging students who were not athletes. Clarion Students Association chairman of the board John Owens, who was in attendance, brought up that the only students in attendance after all student athletes in attendance left to go to a mandatory lecture on hazing (besides himself) were those relating to student media on campus.
“I think part of the problem is that we’re unable to engage our non-student athletes to get involved and to care about the value of our athletic program,” said Owens.
Clarion University Alumni Association head Robert “Bo” Gerritano said recent negative publicity about the university has become detrimental and that positive stories need to be placed on the university’s website.
“There’s not a lot of good news on the website. There’s a whole methodology that you put your news on the website, and that’s knowing what your keywords are, so when somebody does a search that they find positive Clarion news” said Gerritano.
Marketing the university in a positive way was another point Garritano brought up.
“If you go down through the Clarion website, the first thing you see is some flashing pictures, which is really good, and then you see like two stories. But then you’ve got this little tag over on the right-hand side in red that says ‘news,’” said Garritano. “I really glanced at it, and there were one or two good stories there, but you couldn’t see it. That’s the type of thing that has to flash at you.”
Other suggestions to expand the athletic program’s publicity beyond campus, as well as increase its presence on campus were brought up at the meeting.
Snodgrass said the meetings have been productive and that plans are being made to improve the athletic department, as well as improve the university as a whole.
“When we were first tasked with the mission last fall, everyone was questioning the focus of the group,” said Snodgrass. “This group has been great. They’ve been very optimistic.”
The task force will hold its third and final meeting Thursday, March 6 at 6 p.m. in Gemmell 250/252.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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