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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

College athletics and advancement, making the connection stronger Recent national conference chaired by URI vice president

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 23, 2002 -- How does a university handle a controversial appointment, such as the hiring of Bob Knight to coach basketball at Texas Tech? What are the positives or negatives associated with naming rights for major campus athletic facilities? What are the fund-raising challenges for women’s athletics in the post-Title IX era?

These were among the topics covered during a national conference on Athletics and Advancement chaired by Robert Beagle, University of Rhode Island vice president for advancement.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) sponsored the conference, which ran April 29 through May 1 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

"No issue is more relevant to advancement professionals than the relationship between intercollegiate athletics and our work," Beagle said. "Advancement includes fund-raising, alumni relations and public relations."

The growing importance of the link between advancement and athletics was illustrated by the increased numbers in attendance. Last year’s conference attracted 35 participants, and this year’s goal was 70. Nearly 100 joined this year’s program.

"‘Our panels related to covered current issues on university and college campuses, such as fund-raising for women in athletics, how to weave athletics into an institution’s overall capital campaign, and advancement and athletics issues at Division II and III schools," Beagle said. "We also had great interest in two individuals from Texas Tech who spoke about how they managed the hiring of Bob Knight."

The Texas Tech people made a decision to be out front with their alumni when Knight was hired. When the school received negative emails and letters, it sent personal responses and it made sure Bob Knight was prominent in many public forums. As people became exposed to the coach, the less concern there was. In fact, the University saw an increase in alumni giving after the hiring, and saw a greater exposure for the school.

"One of the popular themes of the conference was how to involve athletics boosters in the overall alumni and academic missions of the institution," Beagle said. "For too long booster groups have been viewed by themselves and their institutions as not being part of the overall organization."

The conference focused on viewing and utilizing boosters as institutional volunteer leaders, Beagle added.

Beagle worked since November to line up speakers for the event, which included: Chris Cook, associate director for sports information at Texas Tech, who addressed the hiring of Bob Knight in the panel, "When Athletics Creates a Public Relations and an Alumni Relations Challenge; Susan Clouse Dolbert, president and executive director of the Arizona State University Alumni Association; and Beagle who led lead a panel called "What’s in a Name," a discussion of naming rights for buildings. Kevin Lennon, a senior vice president for the NCAA, gave a keynote address.

Beagle said URI is a prototype for other schools, saying that he, URI Director of Athletics Ron Petro, Alumni Director Michele Nota and their staffs have a good history of working together on Winter Homecoming, promoting higher education bond issues, academic excellence and alumni relations.

To interview Robert Beagle, URI vice president of advancement, please call Dave Lavallee, URI Department of Communications, 401-874-2116.
For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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