This past weekend Tiger Athletics was in full gear, with everyone in action. I hope everyone who attended the football game on Saturday enjoyed the great weather and the action-packed victory over William & Mary. I also want to congratulate the women's volleyball team for winning the Hilton University 49er Invitational this past weekend in Charlotte, N.C.
As we get started with this final installment of the State of the Department letters, don't forget that you can submit questions to me. You can send me questions via Twitter (@TowsonTigerAD) and Facebook.
When I came to Towson 23 months ago, I mentioned we had to stop and take a long look at everything in the department to see where we could make the biggest impacts in the most efficient ways. As I looked at our resources including finances and human resources, it was very apparent we needed to increase our budget significantly if we were going to be a player in the highly competitive Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with the likes of Delaware and James Madison, who are spending as much as 50 percent more than us annually.
As I mentioned in the last letter, there are just three areas in which athletics departments can generate revenue - ticket sales, corporate partnerships and development/fund raising.
When I arrived on campus, Development was really just one and a half people in Greg LaCour and a shared assistant position, and they were raising about $500,000.
Since that time we have made dramatic changes. First we moved John Latteri, a former TU swimmer, from the marketing area to take over the annual fund and major gifts. Next, we brought in Towson alumnus and former Tiger quarterback Dan Crowley to start up the T-Club for former student-athletes and then finally adding Lindsay Peck to coordinate the entire operation. She has since taken over the annual giving campaign, allowing John to spend more time on major gifts.
The final move in the area came last summer with the addition of Devin Crosby as our Deputy Director of Athletics, who handles major gifts and has oversight of the area.
After all of the moves have been completed, there are now five full-time employees in Development. While that is a giant step forward, we are still behind our league peers in manpower. James Madison has nine staff members and raises almost $2 million annually.
Our new staff was immediately challenged to raise more money and this past year (2011-12), they made great strides bringing in $771,000 and increasing membership to over 1,500 donors. The $771,000 is the second-highest total the area has ever brought in compared to a year that included a one-time balloon payment to pay for Unitas® Stadium.
With the annual increases needed in travel, equipment, tuition and other charges to the department, we are going to have to see 15-20 percent increases in development just to continue to maintain operating at our current levels here in 2012. That is why we are focusing so much attention into the area.
That is also why we are asking our current donors to reach a little further with our 110% Program. We are asking everyone to help take the entire athletics program further by giving 10 percent more than they did a year ago. Those additional funds will keep the department moving ahead and put us in a place where you can "EXPECT SUCCESS."
One of the great opportunities I saw when I was looking at taking this job was that a new chapter in Towson Athletics about to begin. When Tiger Arena opens officially in 11 months for volleyball season, Towson will have one of the best facilities in the mid-Atlantic for basketball, volleyball and gymnastics, and it will give our teams the recruiting advantage they need to bring in some of the best student-athletes to ever compete here.
Our new 5,200-seat state-of-the-art facility will include all of the amenities any new large arena would have, including a center-hung videoboard, digital scorer's tables, 360-degree ad ribbon board, suites and hospitality areas but give you the intimate feel and home court advantage that will make the Tigers unstoppable versus anyone at home.
In addition, the complete renovation of the basement of the Towson Center gave all of our teams new locker rooms in the past year. We started this project in the Field House last December when the women's lacrosse and field hockey locker rooms were renovated and the women's cross country/track and field team moved down to a new space we created out of previous visiting team locker rooms. The move was made to allow the team to have lockers in the facility they competed in rather than having to come down from the Towson Center daily.
During the spring we finished off the Field House locker room renovations with the completion of the football locker room.
All of our new locker rooms are outfitted with wooden lockers, high-tech audiovisual systems with big-screen TVs and new furniture. These upgrades give Towson some of the finest locker rooms in the nation and let us compete at the top with our peers in the CAA.
In a move to keep our facilities in order and to have a plan going ahead, we have hired AECOM, the former Ellerbe Becket athletics design firm, to come in and analyze the status of all of our facilities and put together a five to 10 year plan to renovate and expand our facilities so we are competitive in all sports. We have completed the interview process with all of our programs and now AECOM is hard at work developing ideas to bring back to us.
In the last two months, I hired Collegiate Sports Associates to facilitate our department's long-term strategic plan and vision for the next three to five years.
The strategic planning process, which is already underway and is expected to be completed within four to five months, is led by company president Todd Turner, a former Director of Athletics at four NCAA Division I institutions who has over 30 years in collegiate athletics.
Mr. Turner will be helping the Department of Athletics to craft an "institutional vision" for Towson Athletics and set it on a course that will guide us during this important time of change in collegiate athletics. Our ultimate vision is of developing student-athletes who are champions in the classroom and on the field of competition.
Our initial meetings a month ago set the stage for our next step of creating the mission and the vision statements. I can't wait until we complete the process and share all of our work with you on TowsonTigers.com.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these State of the Department letters as much as I have enjoyed going back and reliving my first two years on the job. Towson is a place with such great opportunities. We are all working together as #OneTowson to create a place we can all EXPECT SUCCESS.