Fans of William & Mary Athletics can expect to see some changes in coming years as the college sets their strategic plan for 2025.
The college recently released a 23-page strategic plan that sets forth new ideas and goals to move the department forward heading into the year 2025.
Some of those goals include increasing funding to match the level of other top Colonial Athletic Association programs, creating a student-athlete “Bill of Rights,” and potentially creating a new women’s club sport team.
Pete Clawson, associate athletics director for William & Mary, said the funding is aimed to put the school in the top four levels of the CAA for men’s and women’s basketball as well as football.
“It is a philosophy,” Clawson said. “We want to invest in these sports that have the greatest capacity to generate more resources and engage the community. We can provide income that can help the rest of the entire department.”
Clawson said the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the football teams are currently the sports that already draw in a great deal of interest and so it naturally makes sense to continue trying to engage the community through those outlets.
“Football and men’s and women’s basketball…have the biggest platforms organically,” he said. “We didn’t necessarily choose the most popular, they have the most revenue opportunities…if you advance in football, you find your way into national [television networks] and successful programs in those sports draw larger crowds.”
According to the CAA website, William & Mary’s basketball is ranked 10th for both women’s and men’s and 11th for football in 2019.
However, Anthony Henderson, senior associate athletics director and executive director of athletics advancement for the Athletics Department, said the funding isn’t necessarily a way to compare William & Mary to other schools.
“We aren’t raising money to compare ourselves to other athletic programs,” Henderson said. “[It’s] based on needs for our programs…We aren’t comparing ourselves to other institutions because all schools are different.”
Both Clawson and Henderson said a large portion of the funding will go directly into student-athlete scholarships. Henderson said the department already signs a check of approximately $10 million each year back to the school for scholarships.
The exact amount of funding isn’t necessarily set yet as the department continues to implement the strategic plan.
Henderson started in his position three months ago after working with University of Akron and he says he is excited to see where the department is going. He said he is still hiring for new positions and evaluating the department’s needs.
The strategic plan opened the possibility for a new women’s club team on campus but both Henderson and Clawson said there are currently no plans set for a new team. Instead, the department will continue to analyze whether or not a new women’s sport is viable for the department.
“The athletics department will be monitoring the NCAA landscape to see if there are opportunities to change our inventory,” Clawson said. “We never want to miss an opportunity to add a sport if it makes sense…but we commit to getting gender equity, it’s a law that we are trying to move towards.”
The department is also in the process of drafting a student-athlete “Bill of Rights,” which is a concept Clawson said they’ve adopted from other universities. The idea is to provide student athletes with a document that details the kinds of services and experiences they can expect at the college.
As the college’s Athletics Department continues to move forward, Clawson and Henderson both said they are excited to see the new changes implemented.
“It’s our job to provide a great atmosphere that builds community,” Clawson said. “People are coming out to enjoy the spectacle of William & Mary [sports].”
CAA women’s basketball championship
For the first time in league history, William & Mary and Kaplan Arena will host the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Championship in 2024, the conference announced on Tuesday.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to showcase William & Mary, our women’s basketball program and Kaplan Arena by hosting the CAA championship in 2024,” said Samantha Huge, the college’s director of athletics. “We look forward to welcoming our conference peers to Williamsburg and to providing our student-athletes with the fulfilling experience of competing for a conference championship on our home court, in front of our amazing students and fans.”
The league’s announcement included the next three CAA Championship sites as well. James Madison will host the 2021 championship followed by Towson in 2022 and Drexel in 2023, according to a news release from the college.