Sept. 10, 2009
Dear Members and Friends of the Georgetown University Athletics Community,
On Saturday, August 29th, 2009, our coaches and staff held a family-style welcome reception for the 200 incoming student-athletes and their families. We heard outstanding speeches from President John J. DeGioia, Professor of Economics Robert Cumby, and Executive Director of Campus Ministry Kevin O'Brien, S.J. Perhaps the most inspiring remarks were delivered by one of our students -- Norah Swanson, a tri-captain of the Women's Soccer team who also serves on leadership committees of the BIG EAST and the NCAA. Norah said:
This campus has become my second home; the Georgetown students and faculty, my community; and this athletic department, my extended family. So today, I want to remind you that you are now part of something bigger than yourself, and even bigger than your various teams. You are now part of Georgetown. It is a privilege and an honor, and for this I say, congratulations and welcome.
Our newest Hoyas join an academic community in which 269 returning student-athletes were selected to this year's All-BIG EAST Academic Team, more than any other school in the conference. Women's Rowing led the way with 57 selections, having set the academic standard in their sport in 2008-09. Many more teams -- Men's and Women's Soccer, Men's and Women's Swimming & Diving, Field Hockey, and Volleyball -- were honored for academic distinction. This kind of excellence has defined Georgetown Athletics for decades. It is bigger than all of us.
This past summer I enjoyed the privilege of joining many in the University community as we prepared for the 2009-10 year in Athletics. While no single report can cover the array of activity in our 29-sport intercollegiate program, I'd like to offer a few thoughts on our work together, with appreciation for the contributions of countless coaches, staff, faculty, students, parents, alumni, and friends.
Fall 2009 Athletics Season
The Fall season is off to a promising start. Last weekend, the Men's Soccer team defeated UCLA 2-0 in a thrilling and well-attended North Kehoe Field contest. Women's Soccer has opened with a 5-1 record and welcomes back 2007 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Ingrid Wells, who sat out last season while competing for the United States Under-20 National Team. Volleyball recorded an impressive road win against perennial Patriot League champion American University in front of more than 1000 opposing fans.
The Men's and Women's Cross Country teams, which both finished among the top ten in the country last season, are poised for terrific seasons. The men's team won last year's BIG EAST Championship and returns All-Americans Andrew Bumbalough and Levi Miller. The women's team, behind rising sophomores Emily Infeld and Katie McCafferty, finished in ninth place at the NCAA tournament and trained hard all summer to build on that excellence.
The Football team returns nineteen starters. We began the season with a hard-fought 20-7 loss on the road against 2008 Patriot League champion Holy Cross, then ranked 25th in the nation. The team and the entire campus are excited for our home opener -- this Saturday, September 12th, when league rival Lafayette visits for the first night football game hosted at our Multi-Sport Field.
Our fall competitions in Crew, Golf, Sailing, Swimming & Diving, and Tennis all begin shortly. Our young Field Hockey team has begun its season, and is positioned for improvement. We are pleased to have signed a multiyear agreement to host seven home contests at American University's nearby field.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to Women's Lacrosse Coach Ricky Fried, who achieved a significant professional milestone last summer when he was named coach of the United States National Team.
2009-10 Athletics Department Priorities
1) Recruiting an Outstanding Director of Athletics: In consultation with coaches, faculty, senior leaders and alumni, President DeGioia will select the next Director of Athletics based on his or her ability to help sports flourish within their respective competitive frameworks, expeditiously improve our facilities, and foster educational excellence among student-athletes. We are hopeful that the new AD will be named later this semester, and I am prepared to serve in the interim role until our new leader comes on board.
2) Strengthening the Student-Athlete Experience: This year, we are enhancing our many efforts to foster the learning, growth, and well-being of student-athletes. To maximize academic performance, Shelly Habel, Ph.D. has expanded resources and workshops for student-athletes in our Academic Resource Center. Augie Maurelli, our Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Leadership and Performance, has expanded our Leadership Academy to serve approximately 180 student-athletes. Head Athletic Trainer Shawn Hendi and his dedicated team are working with Assistant Vice President for Student Health James Welsh, M.D. to prevent and contain any incidents of the H1N1 virus among student-athletes -- an endeavor that is challenging athletics departments around the country. On Wednesday, September 30th, the Department is co-sponsoring the University's R U Ready? Program, which seeks to build awareness about sexual assault on college campuses and prevention strategies proven to work. This year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will continue its community service project Hoya Dreams, which pairs student-athletes with children from the Lombardi Cancer Center at the Georgetown University Hospital.
At the same time, we are strengthening the Department's formal relationship with the faculty. This fall, Scott Taylor, Associate Professor in the School of Foreign Service and Director of the African Studies Program, begins his first full year of service as our new NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative. Economics Professor Bob Cumby now chairs the Athletics Advisory Board that includes six faculty and several students. Professors Taylor and Cumby are well-known for their leadership in and out of the classroom. They take on key roles for the success of our mission. Please join me in thanking them for their time, energy, and ideas.
3) Develop a New Facilities Strategy: Everyone associated with Georgetown Athletics knows that we must strengthen the physical infrastructure in which our 29 teams and 800 student-athletes do their work. For example, our training room, weight training room, locker rooms, and team rooms are not sufficient for a Department of our size and caliber. We also have a number of teams practicing or competing offsite, a reality that is not easily rectified given the space constraints of our 104-acre campus. That said, we can take strong steps right now that will make a big difference for our future. In the year to come, we are focusing on developing a strategic plan for two major projects, the completion of which would benefit all of our teams and the University community as a whole.
First, it is crucial that we complete the Multi-Sport Field, which hosts not only our football and lacrosse games, but also intramurals, club sports, and events such as the annual all-night Relay for Life, a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The original design, which includes precast cement stands and a rebuilt foundation, has been an expensive proposition. Though improvements have been made to the field in the last few years, the project remains unfinished and still requires significant investment to complete. For that reason, I have asked colleagues in Athletics and the University to see if we can develop a cost-effective approach to completing the field. Our goals will stay the same: To improve our teams' game-day experience, to make the venue more fan-friendly, and to construct an aesthetically pleasing facility. As we develop new options for this important project in the coming months, we look forward to sharing its details with our friends and donors.
Second, we are working on the design of a prospective Training Facility located near McDonough Arena. The project would have a number of benefits. It would provide Men's and Women's Basketball with the dedicated space and facilities both programs need to maximize our competitive position on the national scene. It would include a weight-training center, training room, team rooms, and study rooms needed by all sports. It would alleviate the demands placed by our intercollegiate program on Yates Field House and some classrooms and lounges, while also alleviating space demands on McDonough, which opened in 1952 when we had fewer than ten sports. And, it would become the new epicenter of Georgetown Athletics -- reflecting and expressing our aspiration to compete well in Division I athletics, in the spirit of our academic values and Jesuit ideals.
Last fall we worked with a leading architectural firm to develop the concept for this essential new facility. This year, we are collaborating with the Office of Advancement to test the feasibility of this project with our investor community. We also will be developing a budget plan so that we can handle the annual operating costs of this facility. The plan will undoubtedly entail new budget efficiencies, new revenue from business relationships, and new savings generated by endowed Athletics scholarships. It is extremely important that we develop this proposed facility now, in advance of the public phase of our next capital campaign.
As we develop two projects that will require sustained engagement with our philanthropic community, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Athletics Advancement Team, including Hoyas Unlimited. This team works with our head coaches to enhance the student-athlete experience by developing financial support opportunities and providing communication with the Georgetown community. I am pleased to report that we had a record-setting year in 2008-09, with just over $4.6 million in gifts received (up 13.8% over last year). These gifts came from more than 5,300 donors, an increase of more than 400 from 2007-08 ... all during the worst recession in seventy years. To all of our donors and investors, thank you.
4) Ensuring Excellence in NCAA Compliance: Last week, the NCAA announced that the Department of Athletics has been placed on a three-year probation as a result of rules violations related to the management of work-study students in the baseball program from 2001-2007. Probation does not affect the competitive standing of our teams, but it does mean that the NCAA will hold Georgetown strictly accountable for the conduct of an effective comprehensive rules program.
This was Georgetown's first major rules infraction. We identified the problem two years ago and have been working cooperatively with the NCAA since then. I want to emphasize that this was not a matter of cheating or trying to gain an advantage. Rather, the baseball program and the Department of Athletics did not effectively manage time-keeping for student-athlete employees. While we are disappointed that this mistake occurred, I am pleased with the integrity and thoroughness of the response from the Department of Athletics. This is a case in which the institution self-identified a problematic practice, self-reported that problem to the NCAA, and voluntarily put in place corrective measures.
We accept the sanctions and will use this experience to promote a still-greater awareness of NCAA rules among all members of our community. In the last week, I have met with all coaches and Athletics staff, and corresponded with all student-athletes, to reinforce our fundamental commitment to integrity, especially in regard to NCAA rules compliance. We have taken a number of steps to enhance our rules education and compliance program, including the recruitment of Mark Rountree last summer to serve as our Associate Athletics Director for Compliance.
If you would like to learn more about this matter, please visit the link below to read a letter from President DeGioia and the accompanying summary of our self-report to the NCAA:
Please mark your calendars for our Homecoming football game, to be held on Saturday, September 26th, at 2:00 pm against Howard University. Midnight Madness will take place on Friday, October 16th -- and will again be broadcast on ESPNU. In addition, Hoyas Unlimited will sponsor a series of Athletics events in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where the Men's Basketball team plays the University of Washington on December 12th, our first regular season game in California in eight years.
For all the ways that you contribute to Georgetown Athletics and Georgetown University, thank you for your support. I hope to see you at one of our competitions or events this season. Please feel free to be in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,
Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D.
Interim Director of Athletics
Senior Vice President for Strategic Development