As we embark on this upcoming year I wanted to send you this note. It's been four years since we launched our “Dare to Be Great” strategic plan which focuses on increasing fundraising to support our programs and student-athletes, solidifying traditions, achieving new levels in academic success and reaching out to our campus and community like never before. I'm happy to report it's been a huge success.
*Our NCAA Graduation Success Rate has soared to all time high of 85%, second highest in the U.C. system.
*We began our first ever comprehensive $30 million capital campaign for facilities (“Walk of Champions” master plan), with gifts to improve our soccer venue ($2 million), renovate basketball locker rooms and team rooms ($1 million), and a new plaza entrance for baseball ($500,000). We also finished a vital step in capital projects planning by securing campus approval for a new aquatics center and a planned track and field overhaul. Once fundraising is in place, the two projects are “a go.”
*We introduced an umbrella annual giving program - the Gaucho Fund - doubling our number of donors (currently 800 each year), led by our special “Living Scholars” who are paired with student-athletes. We currently have 80 donors at that level, up from 50 when we began.
*Secured first $1 million gift to women's basketball in program's history.
*First back-to-back men's basketball NCAA appearances in program history.
*First multi-game sellouts in men's basketball in 20 years.
*Our women's basketball program continued its hold on the Big West with more titles and appearances in the NCAA's (now at 14 in 17 years and counting).
*First NBA draftee (Orlando Johnson, Indiana Pacers) in over 20 years.
*Won our first men's track Big West title ever.
*Men's volleyball appearing in the National Championship match for the fourth time in school history after a Run To Remember.
*Launched the now nationally recognized “This is Soccer Heaven” campaign resulting in men's soccer leading the nation in attendance and breaking five NCAA crowd records.
*Hosted the first national championship event on campus in 35 years with the 2010 NCAA College Cup.
*We've hired talented new head coaches in women's basketball with Carlene Mitchell from Rutgers University who led program to 14th NCAA appearance in first year; baseball's Andrew Checketts from University of Oregon who won most games by rookie head coach in first season; recruited head women's tennis coach Simon Thibodeau from Fresno State who led Bulldogs to nine NCAA tournaments and six sweet sixteen appearances in twelve years.
*We brought wonderful alumni back into the program who are so enthusiastic about our university they now serve as a letterwinners group we call “The Gaucho Order” to help keep our traditions at the forefront of today's student-athletes while helping us connect with generations of Gauchos.
*Celebrate diversity and serve as representatives during Hispanic Heritage and Black History Months, while also collectively giving 5,000 hours of outreach and thousands of free tickets to the community each year through our Gauchos Give program.
*We showcased our incredible young men and women as “Great Examples” to the campus and donors in Dare Magazine, our website and in our new television (Gauchos in Thirty) and radio (Talk'n Gauchos) shows.
*We maintained our goal of recruiting wonderful students, who are good citizens and driven competitors who love being Gauchos.
“Dare to Be Great” is a theme that fits us. It's strong, what we are, who we can be and what this university represents. So what's next? To continue work on winning championships and producing successful young men and women we must get stronger by:
*Engaging new donors to help fund our program resources, coaching needs and scholarship gaps.
*Getting the new Aquatics Center done while also fixing and enhancing our other venues including the Thunderdome which will turn 35 in the next few years.
*More student attendance - even though we've had the largest attendance by Locos for both men's basketball and men's soccer - we need them at more than just the “big games.” In addition to our rival Long Beach State, San Diego State, among others, is joining the Big West in the near future, making our home schedules even more attractive. With tough non-conference opponents (Cal, LSU, Utah State) coming to the Thunderdome in the next few years, we need the sixth man thunder every game.
*Return to owning the Commissioner’s Cup again.
Congratulations to all on our collective success. Being a Gaucho is a special distinction fitting of the “Dare to Be Great” identity.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
If you would like to read past AD Reports, click here.