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Thursday, April 19, 2012
“This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” - Winston Churchill
It has been 12 years since Lipscomb University made the jump from the NAIA to NCAA Division I. The general consensus is that it takes 15 to 17 years to completely make the transition.
While Lipscomb has had its share of successes in the first dozen years even more is expected. In order to take the program to a higher level a financial commitment will have to be made. Saturday night at the “Don Meyer Evening of Excellence” dinner at Allen Arena Lipscomb athletics director Philip Hutcheson announced a $6 million campaign culminating in 2016 and the 125th anniversary of the university.
“The question is `what do we want the next chapter of that story to be’?” Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson encouraged the approximately 400 guests and all that are interested in Lipscomb’s athletic programs to “imagine the athletics we imagine”.
The plans call for $3 million to be used for facility upgrades and renovations which would include a more spacious lobby area in Allen Arena, a new Hall of Fame Room on the south side of the arena, new flooring throughout the concourse and state-of-the-art video boards.
Also in the plans are improvements to the track at the high school, an enlarged and improved grandstand at Draper Diamond and the addition of Nashville Golf & Athletic as our official golf course.
Programs are only as good as the athletes they attract and $1 million would be used to increase the number of scholarships offered.
Strong coaching is also important and $1 million will be used to attract, hire and retain top coaches and staff who fit the mission of the school and the athletic department.
Another $1 million would be designated for operational enhancements which would include investments needed to build, support and elevate all programs at all levels.
Keys to momentum
Hutcheson outlined four keys to maintain the momentum of the department:
“I remember reading about Gonzaga and the secret of that school’s success,” Hutcheson said. “Their secret weapon is the campus visit. We are improving in that area.
“A student-athlete decides within 17 minutes of setting foot on campus whether or not that is where they want to be. We are absolutely in one of the best areas in all of Nashville.”
Many of the programs are recruiting across the nation. In order to attract “game changers” for programs more scholarship money is needed.
“In five years when a coach comes to me and says I have found a game changer for my program I want to be able to say, `coach, we will help you get them’.”
Hutcheson also wants to be able to retain the best coaches as well as being able to attract top level coaches.
“Coaches want to be equipped to be good where they are,” Hutcheson said. “Sometimes that can mean hiring assistant coaches. Sometimes that can mean playing in a location where the team can raise its profile in order to recruit in that area.
“We have had great coaches all the way across the decades at Lipscomb. I would say that of everything we have talked about that is what has made Lipscomb athletics great.”
Hutcheson also referenced Andy Stanley, a leadership communicator based in Atlanta, who has three keys to momentum:
“New and improved will generate momentum,” Hutcheson said. “We have to maintain that positive direction by improving. It takes resources. Imagine what could be if everyone bought in. Imagine the possibilities.”
Lipscomb senior softball pitcher Whitney Kiihnl and senior basketball player Justin Glenn were named as the winners of the James R. Byers Award given annually to the female and male athletes that exhibit Christian leadership as well as both academic and athletic ability.
These are examples of the successes that the athletic department has experienced since beginning NCAA Division I competition.
In 2004 the Lady Bisons basketball made history by becoming the first team to earn an NCAA tournament berth in its first year of eligibility after winning the regular season and tournament championships in the A-Sun.
The Lipscomb volleyball team has earned NCAA Tournament berths in four of the last five years, including the last three in a row.
In 2008 the Bisons baseball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament and won a region game against host Georgia.
In 2010 the Lady Bisons softball team earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance and played in the regional championship, losing to Alabama.
In addition student-athletes and teams have excelled academically winning numerous awards, including the 2010-2011 A-Sun All-Academic award.
One of the speakers for the evening was Jim Allen, who provided the funding for Allen Arena. He announced that he and his wife, Linda, had pledged a gift in the mid-six figures to the fund drive.
How to help
To learn more about Lipscomb University athletics, the campaign and the great things we have imagined for our future, contact Andy Lane, Associate Athletic Director for Development at 615-966-5853 or email@example.com.
“The National Bison Club is where it all starts,” Hutcheson said. “It is about pride and purpose. We have a great history of recognition here at Lipscomb. It is something that we can be proud of.
“We are proud of what we have done, but we want to be competitive. We want to be involved with the community. But more than that, we want to be focused on Christian principles.”