W&M Athletics Releases NEW Strategic Review

With a new strategic vision, Tribe Athletics looks poised for some big changes. [photo: tribeathletics.com]
Following W&M Athletics’ announcement to bring on the PICTOR Group last year, this past week, the consulting firm released its 1+ year analysis on the current state of W&M Tribe Athletics. It’s a lengthy, 27-page report, which we’ve poured through — highlighting key aspects below.

The report is very informative, as the meat of it includes a SWOT analysis (that’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Strengths for those of you who didn’t take Business 101). Essentially, this is a refreshed version of W&M’s previously announced 10-Year Plan, which was released “way back” in April 2015. 

Even still, it’s good to see where AD Samantha Huge’s strategies are focused as we head into the collegiate offseason, and the years to come. Below, you’ll find our summarized version of the report, which you can find in its entirety at this link. Let us know your thoughts on the SWOT, and what, if anything, surprised you! Roll Tribe Roll.

Strengths (8)

  1. Academic Success
    “The 2017 William & Mary student-athlete Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) of 89.1% is the highest graduation rate among public universities for the 14th year in row and is 20 points above the NCAA Division I student-athlete average of 67.1%.”
  2. Accomplished Alumni
    “Known as “the alma mater of the nation,” William & Mary’s alumni include four presidents and national and world leaders in a multitude of professions.”
  3. Campus Setting
    “Its beautiful, historic campus spans 1,200 acres and is within a one hour drive from three major airports and multiple modes of public transportation.”
  4. Loyal Donors and Alumni
    “Roughly 30% of William & Mary alumni give back to the university, making it the top-ranked public institution for alumni giving…During the 2018 One Tribe One Day Campaign (a single day of giving), a total of 2,425 donors contributed $451,000 to Athletics. ”
    [graphic via the PICTOR Group]

  5. National Rankings
    “William & Mary consistently ranks among the nation’s best public universities, and it often stands alone as the top small, public, highly selective research institution.”
  6. Residential Campus
    “Over 70% of William & Mary’s undergraduate students reside on campus in university housing. William & Mary’s campus is easily accessible for students attending class and engaging in other social and cultural activities. Campus life at William & Mary offers many opportunities to build a close-knit community through social, recreational and educational experiences.”
  7. Research University with a Liberal Arts Core
    “William & Mary has been described as having the brains of a great research university and the heart of a small liberal arts college…William & Mary’s 11-to-1 student-faculty ratio is the lowest among the top public universities, an indicator of the university’s commitment to teaching and learning.”
  8. Athletics
    “W&M Athletics has a rich and storied history. As a founding member of the Colonial Athletic Association, William & Mary was the first CAA member to reach 100 CAA titles and has continued its league dominance in men’s and women’s cross country, women’s tennis and swimming. The Tribe currently has earned 136 CAA titles.”

Weaknesses (9)

  1. Institutional Financial Support
    “The university provides financial support through the Student Athletic Fee that funds approximately 55% or $15 million of the overall Athletics operating budget of $27 million…
    While the Student Athletic Fee supports more than half of W&M Athletics’ operating budget, approximately $10 million is returned each year to the university via athletic scholarships awarded to student-athletes. Simply put, the university invests approximately $5 million in W&M Athletics each year…
    Another factor that significantly impacts W&M Athletics is the small full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of 7,550 students compared to other public institutions in Virginia. For example, James Madison University has an undergraduate enrollment of 19,548 students, with a student fee allocated for athletics of $1,677.”

  2. Winning
    “W&M Athletics has had success in winning CAA championships in a few sports over the last 10 years. Football has captured two CAA championships (2010, 2015) while men’s and women’s basketball have yet to win a CAA tournament championship to advance to the NCAA Basketball Tournaments…
    Women’s tennis and men’s and women’s cross country account for 71 of William & Mary’s 128 CAA championships (55%) through 2016-17…
    Seven varsity sports programs (women’s tennis, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, and women’s track and field) account for 84% of William & Mary’s CAA championships won…
    W&M Athletics has failed to win consistently in the three highly visible, community-building and greater-revenue-producing sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball.”
  3. Brand Identity and Intellectual Property
    “William & Mary’s nickname, Tribe, is not well-known outside the state of Virginia. There is confusion between the nickname Tribe and its affiliation with William & Mary. A further complication to the brand identity is the Griffin mascot, which was selected in 2010 as a result of the NCAA eliminating Native American-affiliated mascots and logos. The confusion continues to manifest itself on campus where there is little to no representation of W&M Athletics marks and logos.”
  4. Facilities
    “While some W&M Athletics varsity sports programs enjoy updated and recently renovated facilities, other varsity sports programs are at a significant disadvantage in training, practice and competition venues. Inadequate facilities not only impact the student-athlete experience but also the recruitment and retention of talented student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
  5. Diversity
    “Although increasing diversity is a priority for William & Mary, racial diversity is not represented in Athletics. Out of 135 full-time staff, 70% are male and 30% are female. Of the 135 full-time staff, 14% are persons of color.”
  6. Media Market
    “Major media markets in nearby Richmond and Norfolk are dominated in print and on screen by comprehensive coverage of FBS athletics programs.”
  7. Compensation and Benefits
    “According to the 2017-2018 CAA Compensation Survey, William & Mary Athletics is at the bottom half of the CAA in 15 both overall administrative and coaching compensation.”
  8. Fan Engagement
    “Fan attendance at W&M Athletics events is inconsistent. This is partly attributable to the game day experience and the teams’ records.”
  9. Student-Athlete Support Services
    “W&M Athletics employs fewer support staff who directly impact the student-athlete experience. Given the staff-to-student-athlete ratios, W&M Athletics is under staffed to provide appropriate support services to its 540 student-athletes.”
    Support Service Ratios – Colonial Athletic Association
    [graphic via the PICTOR Group]

Opportunities (7)

  1. Competitive Success
    “The high-profile sports of football and men’s and women’s basketball are uniquely positioned to build university community when they win…
    W&M Athletics has a unique opportunity to establish consistent success in football and men’s and women’s basketball. Winning CAA championships and success on the national stage can lead to increased visibility, revenues, fan attendance and student applications for admission…
    Research has demonstrated that title winners, NCAA Final Four participants and those schools eliminated in earlier tournament rounds can see student applications, enrollment, donations, merchandise sales, web traffic and social media increase.”
  2. Fundraising
    “With expenditures in college athletics continuing to escalate and expectations for winning increased, philanthropic support is critical. W&M Athletics must expand its donor base as it builds a more sustainable financial model. Opportunities for fundraising include annual giving, major gifts and endowment.”
  3. Community Engagement
    “Athletics contests and special events build connections that provide positive interactions between community members and the university. W&M Athletics has the opportunity to invest in community engagement and outreach to strengthen ties to Williamsburg and the greater Hampton Roads area.”
  4. Campus Partnerships
    “W&M Athletics has a unique opportunity to build, nurture and enhance campus partnerships with the university. Developing these relationships will be mutually beneficial and add to the vibrancy of campus life.”

  5. New Institutional Leadership
    “It’s an exciting time for William & Mary. With a new university president, Dr. Katherine A. Rowe, and a new rector, John E. Littel, there is a tremendous opportunity to work in partnership with Athletics Director Samantha K. Huge to advance W&M Athletics.”
  6. Intellectual Property
    “Aligning W&M Athletics’ marks and logos with the university will unify the brand and serve as a platform for national recognition.”
  7. Corporate Sponsors, Licensing
    “W&M Athletics, in conjunction with campus partners, selected Van Wagner as the media rights partner for William & Mary. Having never worked with a group that can access partnerships on the national stage, W&M Athletics has an opportunity to increase the visibility of the brand and generate revenues that will enhance the athletics program.”

Threats (5)

  1. Adverse Publicity
    “All intercollegiate athletics programs may be threatened by scandal. Personal wrong doings by student-athletes, coaches, staff and/or athletics representatives may also damage the reputation of the W&M Athletics and may impact relationships with internal and external stakeholders.”
  2. Conference Instability
    “Conference realignment paired with leadership change in the CAA creates uncertainty. Realignment of CAA members could adversely impact W&M Athletics in a variety of ways.”

  3. Inadequate Facilities
    “While there have been some recent improvements and new construction in some varsity sports programs, other sports still practice and compete at inadequate venues. To achieve and sustain competitive success, teams must have outstanding facilities to recruit and train the best student-athletes.”
  4. Lack of Diversity
    “Females and persons of color are under-represented on the W&M Athletics staff. There must be a concerted effort to diversify by race and gender in coaches, administrators and staff. By not having a more diverse and inclusive environment, W&M Athletics may be viewed by some as privileged and elitist.”
  5. Lack of a Sustainable Financial Model
    “W&M Athletics supports 38% more student-athletes than CAA peers. CAA peers on average spend 32% more per student-athlete than W&M Athletics…
    Funding 23 varsity sports programs with 540 student-athletes and 703 participation opportunities each year continues to put W&M Athletics further behind its CAA peers and impacts achieving and sustaining competitive success.”
    Spending Per Student-Athlete
    [graphic via the PICTOR Group]

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