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The Case for

EXCELLENCE IN ATHLETICS Together we can do great things.

OUR LEGACY, OUR PLACE. UMass Lowell is a place with a legacy of purpose and resolve. Since the 1890s, this campus has educated the professionals and entrepreneurs who have fueled the regional and national economies. It has also been helping to solve society’s most vexing problems with wide-ranging research and engagement in mutually enriching partnerships with community, business and government.

A stunning—and carefully planned—transformation over recent years has reinvigorated the campus with increased enrollment; greater student success; new academic programs; greatly enhanced student life; global partnerships; new academic, student life and research buildings; and a move to Division I athletics. This transformation has brought about a surge of national and international attention, a rise in national rankings and a spirited new energy to the campus. The university will continue to commit time, hard work and resources to keep UMass Lowell an engine of economic growth and innovation. But we need help. Our first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign—Our Legacy, Our Place—will span the next several years and help support vital campus programs and initiatives.

The campaign seeks support for five strategic priorities: • Student Access & Success • Faculty Leadership & Innovation • Living & Learning • Excellence in Athletics • Sustainability & Engagement In this piece, we focus on Excellence in Athletics, describing the important role athletics plays in the success of the campus overall and how you can make a difference. Generations of students depend on us to work together to nurture, enrich and pass on the proud legacy of this place.





















“ To be a River Hawk means a lot. Our motto is ‘united in blue’ and we all come together and feel like we are one. I have pride every time I put on the jersey.” —Shannon Samuels

EXCELLENCE IN ATHLETICS: Making a Difference for the Entire University Community The River Hawks have always soared with pride. Now—with the elevation to NCAA Division I competition— they have fixed their sharp eyes even higher in the pursuit of excellence in athletics. Excellence is about challenging yourself, taking chances, making a profound commitment. To achieve athletic excellence on campus, everyone—students, student-athletes, faculty and staff, alumni, friends, the community—has to be part of the effort. Likewise, the benefits accrue to everyone.

With a 120-year legacy of innovation, entrepreneurship and determination, UMass Lowell took the opportunity, entering the ranks of Division I in July 2013. With one Division I program already in place—ice hockey—and a strong roster of Division II teams, the campus was ready.

And that is precisely why UMass Lowell took the bold step into Division I athletics ahead of schedule.

The move made sense, given the university’s rapid rise in excellence in all other spheres in recent years. Enrollment, student success, research funding, global reach, fundraising, diversity, new academic and residential buildings, renovated labs and classrooms—everything has been part of an upward trajectory reflected in rising national rankings.

In 2012, the university was in the early stages of a five-year plan to increase resources for its Division II athletics program when an opportunity arose to join America East, a Division I conference that included other public research institutions in our geographic footprint. These schools are our peers and aspirant peers, schools that we measure ourselves against academically. The plan to pursue Division I competition was part of the larger strategic plan of the university—laid out in UMass Lowell 2020, A Strategic Plan for the Next Decade—an ambitious blueprint for raising excellence across all areas of the campus. Athletics plays a special role for the university, serving as the “front porch” that brings larger communities to campus, people who then often support the campus.


River Hawk athletic teams became Division I members of the America East Conference on July 1, 2013. Ice Hockey became Divison I in 1983.






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EXCELLENCE IN ATHLETICS: Why is the Pursuit of Excellence in Athletics Good for the Campus?



I t fosters a vibrant campus life for all students. High-caliber athletics create a greater sense of unity, spirit and pride, bringing the student community closer together. Since UMass Lowell stepped into Division I, attendance at games has risen and the excitement on campus is palpable.


I t positions the campus among its academic peers, garnering national attention for its academic successes. It also enables the university to recruit first-rate students and faculty. This translates to an enriched academic environment and wider research opportunities. For alumni, it puts added shine on the value of a degree.


The more intense level of play prepares studentathletes to be community and business leaders. They have learned time management skills, team building, discipline, goal setting, how to manage in the spotlight and how to deal with adversity.

Division I competition requires a significant commitment of resources: top-notch facilities; recruitment of outstanding student-athletes and coaches; and enhanced athletic, academic and personal support of those athletes. As alumni and friends, you are valued, essential members of the campus community. Your support makes athletic excellence possible. The following pages outline the areas that will benefit most from private gifts.


The record number of fans who attended River Hawks hockey and men’s and women’s basketball games in the 2014-15 season.







ATHLETIC FACILITIES: Providing Resources to Enable Excellence The range and quality of athletic facilities are key factors in maintaining a successful Division I program. UMass Lowell requires a road map for much-needed facility improvements for its growing Division I athletics program. Some facilities, like the Costello Athletic Center, were built over 40 years ago and are showing signs of deterioration. First-rate practice and game venues will assist efforts to compete at the highest level of competition, recruit top-notch student-athletes and coaches, and provide memorable experiences to fans who attend River Hawk games. The Tsongas Center provides the hockey team with one of the nation’s finest competitive venues, but it lacks a quality practice facility. Other elite programs—the company we now keep—have single-purpose practice rinks, providing them with a competitive edge.

Next, with men’s and women’s basketball competing at the Division I level, it is essential that they also call the Tsongas Center home. The current basketball facility is too small for Division I competition and lacks the amenities needed to ensure an enjoyable fan experience. A basketball practice court, team locker rooms and premium office space for coaches are amenities that are commonly found among our Division I peers. Quality facilities are needed to ensure success for all other sports as well. An Indoor practice complex, a larger strength and conditioning center, and new locker rooms are essential. The University is stepping up its game and is asking passionate alumni and friends to join it in this exciting venture.


Current number of Division I student-athletes after the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse for the 2014-15 season.







ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS: Endowing Competitive Student-Athletes Athletic scholarships are critical to UMass Lowell’s ability to compete at the highest level in Division I. The university’s commitment is to fund the maximum number of scholarships allowable so that we can compete at the highest level. For those seeking to be part of UMass Lowell’s pursuit of excellence, providing support for athletic scholarships offers a direct, satisfying and critically important way to make a difference. As a new member of America East, the university has a long way to go to build a strong scholarship program. Your help is greatly needed.

Consistent with other successful Division I programs, the university must bring all sponsored sports to the maximum number of scholarships allowed per NCAA rules. Presently, the only sports that are at the maximum level are ice hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

With funding comparable to other schools in America East and Hockey East, the university will be able to recruit, nationally and internationally, the best student-athletes. The scholarships will also enable the university to recruit athletes who will excel academically and athletically and will help ensure that UMass Lowell meets gender equity goals.


Scholarships allowed by the NCAA for UMass Lowell’s athletic programs.




TAELOUR MURPHY, Track and Field

KERRY WELDON, Men’s Basketball

History Major and Scholarship Recipient

Entrepreneurship & Marketing Major and Scholarship Recipient

Winning the 200-meter championship and knowing that I was capable of competing at the Division I level was life-changing. Having a scholarship allows me to focus on my studies. I was recently accepted into the History Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta.

Being a River Hawk is like being in a tight knit family. It’s a brotherhood, a sisterhood. If I go into the weight room and I see a lacrosse or a baseball or a soccer player, there’s a bond. Everybody’s working together: on the field, off the field, in the classroom.

SHANNON SAMUELS, Women’s Basketball


Criminal Justice Major and Scholarship Recipient

Business Management & Marketing Major and Scholarship Recipient

Being a student-athlete is very, very difficult but we have a lot of support. There are a lot of resources for students at UMass Lowell and athletes have access to tutors all the time. We have academic meetings with our coaches every week and they make sure you’re on top of your classwork.

It really makes you feel honored to wear the UMass Lowell crest on your jersey. You’re playing for the campus, but what you’re doing is bigger than just a game, it’s something big for the school, the community, the kids who come to the games.




STUDENT-ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS: Supporting Success in the Classroom and on the Playing Field UMass Lowell has always ensured that its student-athletes are as successful in the classroom as they are on the field of play. With the move to Division I, the university is intensifying its efforts to support its student-athletes to ensure academic success, personal growth and balanced social lives—in other words, the whole individual. Plans are underway to expand the support program to wide-ranging services that will help student-athletes balance the challenges of academics and demanding athletic schedules.

UMass Lowell is committed to providing its student-athletes every advantage to mature as serious scholars, strong athletes, healthy and happy adults, and good world citizens. Fulfilling this commitment requires planning, care and consistent support. The university is carefully considering the totality of our student-athletes and invites you to join us by supporting these programs.

This student-athlete development center, to be built in Costello, will be a one-stop shop where staff will be on hand to offer tutoring and academic advising as well as strength and conditioning, nutrition and health education, community outreach opportunities, leadership development and referral to other areas of the campus providing student support.


The average cumulative GPA of UMass Lowell student-athletes after the fall of 2014.







THE BIG PICTURE: WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. The pursuit of athletic excellence benefits the entire campus community: students, student-athletes, faculty and staff, alumni, friends. Likewise, everyone plays a role in achieving excellence.

Some benefits of intercollegiate athletics are obvious. For example, they enhance student-athletes’ overall experience: teamwork builds character; exercise contributes to physical fitness; discipline and commitment develop strong workplace habits.

Stepping up to Division I competition will help generate national attention for the university’s academic successes and enable us to better recruit first-rate students and faculty. This will lead to a more vibrant academic environment and wider research opportunities.

Division I athletics also bring a campus community together, fostering spirit and pride. Everyone loves to cheer for the home team.

Bottom line: an investment in athletics is an investment in the goals and potential of the university as a whole and will benefit all campus members.

Less obvious is how an athletic program—especially one focused on excellence—benefits the academic and research vigor of a campus. The most important role of our athletic program is to serve the larger campus interests and successfully contribute to elevating the national profile of UMass Lowell. Is the investment in Division I and the pursuit of excellence worth it? Yes. In these pages, we have described how athletics serves as a front porch that brings larger communities to campus, including people who then often support the university.

But we need your help. The pursuit of excellence requires resources: scholarships, facility improvements and support programs. Generations of students have benefitted from the support of those who came before them. Please continue this proud tradition by investing in the campus and the students of today and tomorrow.


OUR PRIORITIES Our Legacy, Our Place has identified five key campaign priorities that will help shape the UMass Lowell of the future. In addition to Excellence in Athletics, they are Student Access & Success; Faculty Leadership & Innovation; Living & Learning; and Sustainability & Engagement.

Office of University Advancement | Charles J. Hoff Alumni Scholarship Center | 1 Perkins Street | Lowell, MA 01854 | 978-934-2223

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