Saturday, March 14, 2009

March Madness...

So I was watching college basketball this weekend in advance of March Madness and thought back to the past season here at CSU. Both of our teams had winning records in the same season for the first time in school history. Great accomplishment given that we have had an uneven administration of athletics during my time here at CSU. It is probably more difficult at a historically commuter campus to generate interest in athletics on the part of faculty than at more traditional universities. And our basketball teams have done their part by winning. Now what are we going to do to support our student-athletes?

I believe there is a disconnect between the Athletics Department and the academic side of the university. A well run athletics program at a Division I school has the opportunity to put a school on the map and increase and diversify its enrollment. Not every university can have a viable football program. However, many small schools can and do have successful basketball programs. What is it going to take to get our programs into the NCAA tournaments and have Chicago State University seen by millions of prospective students all over the country. Since we don’t spend money on marketing this institution, we have to rely on ‘free media.’ The NCAA tournament is ‘free media’ that could attract more traditional students, many from out of state and enhance our revenue stream while improving our retention and graduation rates. Academics and athletics should work hand in hand to promote the university. And the truth be told I was never very supportive of the athletics program because I didn’t take the time to get involved.

I had the opportunity this past season to work with the Women’s basketball team on sharpening some of the mental aspects of their preparation. It was a tremendous learning experience for me. One of the more important lessons I learned was how important our support is to our athletes. They want to be seen and recognized not just in the classroom but on the court or the field. I asked myself why I don’t see more faculty at sporting events and then it occurred to me, that maybe they haven’t been asked. If you have worked here more than a week, you probably know that institutionally, communications is a significant weakness. So in my official capacity as the institution’s Faculty Athletics Representative, I invite all faculty to our sporting events. Come out and support our student athletes. Take a different interest in their experience. For some of our student athletes, their participation in sports is what gives them an opportunity to earn a degree. It’s important to them. Can we make it important to us?


  1. (applause) Phillip, the Faculty of Chicago State University has an open invitation to attend to the sporting events. Time after time, year after year, I (personally) make my rounds out to gain some support from the Faculty members and each department on campus. The animosity towards athletics run deep that some of faculty members and departments think that athletics is keeping them from having a raise. That athletics is the root of the problem on the reason why this university is struggling with finances. In fact, these rumors about athletics can be further from the truth. Allow me to address the budget/finances of athletics...athletics could increase campus revenue and enrollment if the university take timeout to invest in a "qualified" marketing director...take note of the word qualified being in raise the awareness of this institutions athletic department. This year, David Holtson was second in the nation in scoring and the arena was close to being empty (if you take away the other sport teams and the men's & women's basketball teams parents)that be in attendance. Last season, the women's basketball team had 4 members on the roster ranked among scoring, steals, assists, and three point shooting in the nation...yet, no one from the university seemed to know or care. In fact, some faculty members I had a multiple encounters with over the past 6 years I've been working at Chicago State totally shocked me when they talk about the basketball teams of old. For example, one individual mention that the men's basketball team used to win all the time in the 1970s and 1980s. I was thinking I can win "all the time" too if I continue to play against NAIA competition. Furthermore, Chicago State had raised their level of competition by moving up to Division I competition. So, now its time for our university to move up to the present as well. I haven't yet seen a Division I team accomplish two winning seasons (the women's basketball team won 16 games again back to back under Angela Jackson; the men's their first under Bengy Taylor) without fan support from their university until now. So, does the students need your support? The answer is YES. Does the coaches need your support? The answer is YES. The athletic department is YOUR MEDIA BILLBOARD...when we are out in the communities wearing CHICAGO STATE GEAR the people don't ask about the chess club record. They ask how's the basketball teams record. When a student-athlete is out in our community volunteering to read to other students at elementary schools the children remember that nice young man or woman from the basketball, volleyball, track, cross country, baseball, golf, or tennis teams. Because we represent YOU as an UNIVERSITY not just an athletic department.

  2. The lack of attendance at basketball games is but a slice of the problematic pie: students do not feel they are a significant part of CSU, and they do not feel CSU is a significant part of their lives. Attendance is low at most of the events on campus (excluding the rapper T.I.'s community service performance). Students need to feel a sense of pride for their school, and the university needs to make them feel that they have the power and the right to make this university their own. This is not an easy task, especially when there is a lack of consistency in positions like university PRESIDENT and budgets are kept hidden and obscured by nonsense. It is not, however, beyond our reach.

  3. Strawbeerykiss,

    I agree sometimes (ok, majority of the time, LOL)Chicago State's customer service sucks, but students, staff, and faculty should already be motivated to have school pride or spirit. Regardless of what's going on in the budget room, board meetings or administration offices. I've been attending Chicago State's Spirit Day for 6 years now; every year since I've been attendance I watched how the SGA and "dear" Dr. Bernie Rowan try effortly to get the campus community out to participate in Spirit Day. Every year, people come out to eat the free food and drink the free soda or receive the free t-shirt and leave immediately after missing the purpose of "School" Spirit Day. Maybe, I've been spoiled coming ffrom an university who takes pride in their students, student-athletes and school without condition but somehow, some way, we got to stop the animosity toward each other...stop pointing the finger went we're not doing our part...stop the excuses when we should be doing more than just showing up for the free stuff!

    Let's change the culture of "me" or "you" to "we" to "do". Let's see how far that concept we reach. Faculty and Staff let's take this one day instead of having a chip on our shoulders about "missing class" will put you so far behind that student won't recover and its a waste of time. Let's put that day in your syllabus for that day...let's change the animosity towards budget reports not being shared for that day. If the reports not being shared throughtout the year, why should it matter for "School Spirit Day" is not going to be shared then either. Let's forget about "my research" is more important than getting to know each other and being divided. Let's see how that will go just this once.