Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI vice president is major player at national conference on athletics, advancement

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

South Kingstown resident participates in three talks

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 11, 2004 – Triple plays are rare in baseball, but Robert Beagle, the University of Rhode Island’s vice president of advancement, pulled one off at a recent national conference on college athletics and advancement.

The South Kingstown resident participated in three highly attended programs at May’s CASE Athletics and Advancement conference in New Orleans.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the professional organization for advancement professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, and development. Its springtime conference on athletics and advancement sold out.

Beagle’s major talk, “Competing Interests,” dealt with the need to integrate athletics with overall university advancement goals.

“I talked about how you can best line up alumni, boosters and advancement,” Beagle said. “We all know that making athletic fund-raising part of central development can ease campus rivalries for limited funds and resources. The integrated approach makes fund-raising more effective for athletics and the University. The model not only promotes fund-raising, but it is also an approach for building relationships.”

He said he told the group that the best way to do it is to have athletic development officers report directly to the vice president of advancement, which is the way it is done at URI.

Beagle said this approach best ensures that if the university or college has a long-range strategic plan, the goals and objectives will include athletics. “I believe this approach makes advancement across the University much more effective,” he said.

Beagle said the integrated model not only gets coaches involved in athletic fund-raising, it also involves them in campus-wide initiatives. He gave as an example Penn State football coach Joe Paterno’s heavy involvement in fund-raising for the Penn State library, and Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski who fund-raises for the Duke medical center.

“We also know that for many people athletics is the first doorway that leads to University donations, and if we can build on that relationship, we can achieve greater success,” Beagle added.

Beagle said one of the best things about this CASE conference is that each year it brings together the best people in athletic fund-raising and university-wide advancement personnel to talk about common challenges.

Beagle also gave a talk about naming rights to athletics facilities, which was entitled, “What’s in a Name?” In that talk he discussed the benefits that the naming of athletic facilities can provide, but also addressed the downsides—the name itself and the expectations, requests and even the demands of donors that may affect both the facility and the program.

In his final program, Beagle teamed up with Steven W. Wrigley, senior vice president for external affairs at the University of Georgia for a talk entitled, “Athletics and ….Everything.”

Beagle said they used a case-study approach to examine how negative issues or problems in an athletic department that play out in the public affect an institution’s image, its ability to raise funds and attract students. “We took the position that in the final analysis, the impact of athletics on these areas is much less than people think,” Beagle said. “What appears to be a PR crisis usually isn’t. The issue or problem is just one piece of what people hear. If the institution has a history of integrity, academic excellence and alumni achievement, then these negative issues can be just blips on the radar.”