Facilities Enhancement Projects (Updated Fall 2012)
Mission Statement: Intercollegiate Athletics
The Intercollegiate Athletics Department participates fully within the mission of Western Illinois University to provide the premier undergraduate and graduate education among all public universities in Illinois. The Department strives to attract a diverse group of highly qualified student-athletes and, with a focus on their personal welfare, provide those student-athletes with premier academic and athletic experiences. Through coaching, competitions, mentoring, and specialized student-athlete support services, the Department encourages all participants to succeed at the highest possible level in academic programs and athletic competitions. By this dedication to academic and athletic excellence, the Department seeks to build a sense of pride among its student-athletes in representing Western Illinois University.
The mission statement of the Western Illinois Athletics Department is clear and concise. This philosophy will always be the cornerstone of the decision making process within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at Western Illinois University. Western has a highly respected tradition, wherein several sport programs have been highly successful at the conference, regional, and in some instances, the national level. Moreover, Western’s student-athletes have proven themselves in the classroom, earning highly respectable grade-point averages and nationally competitive graduation rates. The department has made a firm commitment to remain compliant with NCAA, Missouri Valley Football Conference and The Summit League regulations. At the same time, there is a strong commitment to gender equity. A gender neutral athletic environment is critical and necessary. The Western Illinois Athletics Department is, and will remain, an honorable Division I Athletics department.
Athletically, it is our goal to compete at the highest possible level, which by definition describes all Division I intercollegiate athletics programs. Indeed, the desired end result of all Division I athletics competition is victory. It is an extremely intense challenge to be victorious in each and every competition. However, in the end, a Division I intercollegiate sports program is not expected to win on all occasions to be considered successful, yet it cannot and will not be successful if it does not intensely strive for victory. In juxtaposition to our Mission Statement, it is imperative that our victories are achieved fairly and with integrity: Honorable Victory.
Facilities and Western Illinois Athletics
The competitive nature and success of most athletics programs is measured and evaluated on a daily basis, primarily on the scoreboards, newscasts, and newspapers. Oftentimes the basis of a sport program’s competitiveness and ultimate success extends behind the headlines deep into the support offered by its administration. The national and regional yardstick by which a program’s support base is measured is in its facilities. The coaches and staff at Western Illinois are vigilant in monitoring the successes, failures, resources, and facilities of their peers and rival institutions. These comparisons are provident, because in intercollegiate athletics, just as with other components of the University, most often there is a direct relationship between the facilities and resources and the competitive success of the program. It can be programmatically catastrophic to fall behind our peers.
With this in mind, the Western Illinois Athletics Department is committed to endeavor to advance itself in terms of facility improvement. Despite recent progress, our work is not yet finished. Several athletics facilities originally designed for only a few men’s sport programs are now, primarily due to the emergence of women’s sports programs, attempting to serve the needs of over 500 student-athletes participating in 20 intercollegiate sports (10 women, 10 men). This information is important because the intercollegiate athletics industry, especially at the Division I level is most certainly a facility-driven enterprise.
The quality of our physical environment has a tremendous effect on two main objectives relative to our competitive achievement:
1. The Student-Athlete Experience
The ultimate return on our investment in our student-athletes will be measured by their overall experience here at Western. The value of this student-athlete experience and subsequent competitive success is directly related to the quality of their training and competition facility. Student-athletes, as all students do, desire to be proud of their institution and of their campus. As computers, laboratories, libraries, residence halls, and dining facilities are essential to successful academic and social education across campus, the facilities where student-athletes practice and compete dramatically affects the academic, athletic and social outcomes. A gender neutral environment is essential.
2. Recruit the Best Student-Athletes
The recruitment of the very best student-athletes is critical. Prospective student-athletes are very impressionable and these impressions are fostered by the quality of an institution’s facilities. Adequate facilities reflect a positive image and suggest a commitment to competitive success. In contrast, second-rate facilities will severely hamper the recruiting process. Facility deficiencies additionally provide rival institutions the recruiting advantage fueling the notion that Western may lack the commitment to be a competitive Division I athletics program.
Facility Priorities of Western Illinois Athletics
Regarding the department’s mission and facility philosophy detailed above, the Western Illinois University Athletics Department has identified its critical facility needs. Thus, The Facility Initiative is prioritized based on three primary factors:
- the critical need, focusing on student-athlete safety, customer/fan safety, customer/fan amenities which will enhance revenue producing opportunities;
- facilities that will serve the training and competitive needs of as many of our 500+ student-athletes as possible, with a clear eye on achieving a gender neutral environment
- facilities that will position the Athletics Department and the University to recruit the very best student-athletes as possible......Division I caliber student-athletes.
Fund-raising efforts are now under way to secure the appropriate progression towards our ultimate goal. It would be an understatement to say the Facility Initiative must be on the fast track. The time frame for completion of these projects will rely almost entirely upon the future availability of external-based revenue streams and philanthropic gifts to the Intercollegiate Athletics Department.