By Anthony Gannon
The athletics department released St. Bonaventure’s first ever comprehensive strategic plan Monday. The plan is the result of a two-year planning process focused on increasing the quality of several on-campus sports facilities. The women’s basketball locker room and the soccer, lacrosse and softball fields will all be renovated, a concrete pathway will replace the Hill, and bleachers are being installed at the soccer field.
The current phases of the plan being acted on are the hiring of an experienced compliance officer, fundraising for the Outdoor Athletic Complex and for the women’s basketball locker room and the hiring of a fundraising consultant to raise more money to and build revenue-generating capacity.
“We want to be able to offer a true Division I experience to our student-athletes,” Athletic Director Steve Watson said. “And part of that is with the implementation of these facilities we can have night games outside. We don’t want to limit it to just our D-I athletes either. We’d like to see the intramural championships out under the lights.”
Last year’s basketball success contributed to the development of the plan, but wasn’t the main factor in the development of the plan, according to University President Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F..
As it is, current St. Bonaventure sophomores, juniors and seniors won’t be able to enjoy the upgrades fully because groundbreaking for the project doesn’t begin until 2015.
With the upgrade in the facilities, St. Bonaventure will finally be eligible to host an Atlantic 10 Postseason Tournament. Currently, the standards of Bonaventure’s athletic facilities fall below the standards set for Atlantic 10 schools to host the tournament.
“We’ve never hosted an A-10 Championship on campus,” Watson said. “We’ve never had anything because our facilities don’t meet the A-10 requirement.”
Along with the facilities upgrade, the plan has established eight areas of focus for St. Bonaventure and its athletics program. St. Bonaventure is focused on establishing a record of compliance free of a single major NCAA violation. Athlete’s academic performances are also a priority as athletes are asked to maintain 3.0 GPA and each sports team will have to maintain a minimum Academic Progress Rating score of 950.
Step three of the plan describes the monetary needs to upgrade the sports facilities: improve athletics facilities to advance our student-athletes’ academic, competitive and social development and to meet or exceed A-10 Conference standards. The plan outlines $18.8 million in needed facilities construction or renovation projects. Fundraising has begun for two of these projects: 1) construction of a $300,000 women’s basketball locker room in the Reilly Center; and 2) construction of a $2.84 million athletic field’s complex, including artificial turf, seating, lighting and concession space for softball, lacrosse, and soccer (which can also be used by club and intramural teams).
The fourth and fifth steps outlined deal with increasing the available amount of money to use for the plan step four focuses on increasing revenue and funds for the athletic department. A combination of income and reliance on donations will help St. Bonaventure reach their monetary goal. Watson said that ticket sales would need to increase significantly to reach the goal within the next few years, but all the goals outlined by the plan are ambitious and achievable.
Step six deals with on-field athletic performance and focuses on Bonaventure sports teams finishing in the top half of the Atlantic 10 across all sports. Step six is considered very possible if the other steps of the plan are applied.
The seventh step in the plan deals with the enrollment and retention of student-athletes at Bonaventure. SBU’s goal is maintain 240-250 students-athletes per year. The eighth step of the plan is staff compensation along the peer school median as determined by CUBA HR data.
The outline of the plan stated the athletics plan needs to be implemented into Bonaventure’s Becoming Extraordinary 2015.
“We’re just starting to implement this plan now,” Watson said. “We’ve been planning this for two years, but this project is still in its infancy and we’re excited to get to work on it.”
A different version of this story was printed in the Oct. 26 issue of The Bona Venture. We incorrectly stated that $14 million has been raised so far for the improvements. We regret the error. A correction will run in the Nov. 2 Bona Venture issue.