The Athletic Director's Corner

July 3, 2007

Reviewing 2006-07

 

As the 2006-07 academic year has drawn to a close, it is time to reflect on the past 12 months and also look into the future of Bulldog athletics. 

 

Academic excellence:  Congratulations to the Class of 2007!  Butler University's 2007 May commencement included 35 (+ 18 more in August) student-athletes.  These graduates put the "student" in student-athlete and join the long blue line of proud alumni.  Thank you for your focus and leadership.

 

More academic excellence:  Last week, 78 Butler athletes were recognized for the Horizon League Honor Roll.  This tied Butler for first place among Horizon league schools for the most honorees.  Men's basketball (4) men's cross country/track and field (14), men's golf (6) and women's golf (5) led their respective HL sports.  For more detailed info click here.

 

Even more academic excellence:  A.J. Graves was named to the basketball's Academic All American First Team. 

 

Championships:  Horizon League championships were captured by women's cross country, men's cross country, men's basketball, men's tennis and women's golf.  Great efforts in every case led to the ultimate success...team success.  Visit the respective team websites at: www.butlersports.com.

 

Golfest:  The tremendous work done by the university Advancement team, B-Association and athletic department staff resulted in a 2007 Butler Golfest sellout!  Over 280 Bulldog supporters joined forces on June 11, 2007 to raise funds for our teams.  Thank you for supporting our drive for excellence.

 

Hall of Fame:  The recently completed 2007 Butler Athletics Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony was a grand success.  A sellout crowd saluted 7 individuals and 1 team of Butler greats.  For more information click here.  Join us next year for this special time.

 

The window to Butler:  The men's basketball season provided an incredible `window" to the university at large.  From the stunning NIT Tip-Off Championship in New York City to the Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA basketball tournament, Butler received untold amounts of exposure.  Associate athletics director for communication, Jim McGrath put together a sampling of the news highlights that is remarkable.  The 06-07 Dogs played their way onto 16 hours of national television (what an infomercial!) which connected more people to Butler University than ever before. 

 

Lacrosse and men's swimming: While there have been many more positive than negative events during the 2006-07 school year, I would be remiss to fail to note our sport contraction.  In sponsoring twenty-one Division 1 sports (which was more than Oklahoma, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Georgia Tech, not to mention five more sports on average than our Horizon League opponents) Butler has not been able to support our athletic programs with the resources needed for them to be competitive.  Of ten peer private institutions studied, Butler ranked a distant tenth in expenditures per sport.  Our university was not and is not in a position to divert monies from other operating budgets to athletics. 

 

At Butler University, we strive for quality in all that we do, being selective in our offerings, realizing that we cannot effectively be all things to all people.  Assessing our available resources (staffing, financial aid, operating budgets, facilities, academic support, athletic trainers, compliance, eligibility, sports information, fundraising, promotions, marketing, etc.) and the parameters in which we must operate (Butler University, NCAA, Horizon League/Pioneer Football League/Great Western Lacrosse League, and the federal mandates of Title IX) it became obvious that we were trying to do too much with too little. This has been the case for some time and we can no longer ignore that fact.  Past reductions in scholarships, budgets, and staffing have only delayed the inevitable.  A comprehensive review confirmed our circumstances.  Our future depends on our selection of offerings AND increasing support for our remaining teams.  It was with great regret that I faced approximately 40 student-athletes, and told them that we could no longer support them or their teams.  I believe wholeheartedly that we can avoid this action in the future, but it will take a team effort to do so.

 

Support:  In August, I announced that the Athletic Department would have emphasized priorities of fund-raising, sponsorships and marketing (ticket sales) in the upcoming year.  We are pleased to announce this emphasis has paid off with growth in all areas. 

 

·          Charitable giving to the Athletic Department for annual purposes increased by 71% over the previous year.

·          A record total of 1,524 people made gifts this year, which is up from 996 in 2005-06 (a 53% increase in donors).

·          Sponsorship revenue increased by 67% over the previous year.

·          Eight new sponsors have been brought on since September, which means the Athletic Department is proud to have more than 40 corporate partners on board heading into 2007-08.

·          Men's basketball ticket revenue increased by 81% and attendance rose by 50% (do you think the record setting season had an effect? Duh!)

 

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our successes in 2006-07.  Student-athletes, coaches, support staff, alumni, university administration, sponsors, donors and fans.  Our `dog pack' has grown and we welcome all who believe in The Butler Way.

 

Go Dogs!

 

Barry Collier