Grading W&M Athletics vs. 2015 Ten-Year Plan Goals

Almost exactly seven years ago to the date, in April 2015, William & Mary released its 10-Year Plan — detailing the future of Tribe Athletics. At the time of publishing, it was quite a lengthy document (31 pages to be exact), and it was chalk full of exciting plans for the future of Tribe Athletics.

Way back in 2015, long-time W&M Athletics Director Terry Driscoll was the man at the helm; of course, W&M is technically on its third AD since his retirement. Not good for continuity or execution, to be sure.

All of this is to say, while W&M’s current senior leadership team is certainly far removed from the original 10-Year Plan’s goals, it is nonetheless interesting and important to revisit the plan’s stated goals to compare it to today’s reality. How exactly has W&M fared in delivering on its promises to alums and fans?

Let’s find out, dealing out PASS/FAIL grades where possible.

  • Endowments for Scholarships: (Estimated Cost: $1.3 million per scholarship, $192 million to fully endow all scholarships)
    1. “If all athletic scholarships at William & Mary were fully endowed by FY 2020, it would free up to $13 million from the annual budget to provide for other Tribe Athletics priorities. That would be in addition to the $2 million in existing endowment income.”
    2. “William & Mary currently funds 220 athletic scholarships despite being allowed 258 scholarships by the NCAA based on the sports sponsored by Tribe Athletics. Endowment revenues currently provide for roughly a quarter of the expense of providing those 220 athletic scholarships.”
    3. “In 2013-14, Tribe scholarship athletes’ overall graduation rate ranked 14th of 346 NCAA Div. I institutions, and it placed above the 95th percentile among that group. William & Mary boasts the highest graduation rate for scholarship athletes of any public university in the country.”

      WMSB 2022 Grade: MORE DATA NEEDED. At this point, we’re not quite sure the last time the school released data on this subject (if anyone is privy to it, please leave us a comment on social or at the bottom of this article!). And this is, of course, an ongoing point of concern for W&M. Making sure that each Tribe team is fully endowed with the max number of scholarships allows W&M to compete at the highest level it can in the CAA and beyond. In the past, W&M has struggled with supporting the max # of scholarships for certain sports, and it’s at least one reason why the Tribe has lagged behind some of its CAA peers in certain sports.
  • A [New] Multi-Sport Indoor Practice Facility: (Estimated Cost: $20 – $25 million)
    1. “At present, William & Mary Hall is the only game and practice venue for men’s and women’s basketball as well as volleyball, which presents substantial challenges in scheduling for the needs of each of these three programs.”
    2. “In the near future Tribe Athletics should provide an appropriate home for these programs that are so vital to realizing the enhanced alumni and community engagement, institutional marketing, and university branding envisioned in this plan.”
    3. “The new practice facility should include two practice courts capable of supporting men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball as well as consolidated space for sports medicine, sports psychology, academic support, and compliance.”

      WMSB 2022 Grade: PASS. I mean just WATCH the video below. During the Samantha Huge era (I know, let’s just forget about that part), W&M announced a complete overhaul to Kaplan Arena, which includes an all-new multi-sport indoor practice facility. Of course, we’re still missing a more dedicated space for W&M’s storied gymnastics programs, but the school seems to be delivering on 2015’s promise stated above.

William & Mary Hall 2.0: (Estimated Cost: $60 – $75 million for new construction, $22 – $28 million for renovation)

  1. “William & Mary Hall is more than 40 years old and showing its age. Opened in 1971, it is home to most of Tribe Athletics – team locker rooms, coaching offices, and support services – and is the athletic department’s operational base.”
  2. “The next incarnation of William & Mary Hall is of strategic importance to the university and region. In reaction to the 2014 update to William & Mary’s master plan, the student body president noted the need for an appealing 3,000-seat venue on campus, which is acknowledged to be a regional need in the City of Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle.”
  3. “The Committee does not have the architectural, engineering, or campus planning expertise to determine whether replacement, as occurred via the John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia…or a comprehensive renovation, as occurred in the Robins Center at the University of Richmond (opened 1972, renovated in 2013 for $17 million), is the best solution for William & Mary.”
  4. “A new or made-like-new William & Mary Hall would be transformative for Tribe Athletics, the university, and the Historic Triangle region.”

    WMSB 2022 Grade: PASS. Again, the fly-through video does look pretty amazing.

  • A Swimming Facility: (Estimated Cost: $15 – $20 million)
    1. “Although our men’s and women’s swimming teams annually contend for CAA championships, Tribe Athletics has no swimming facility. The teams do not have locker rooms and are forced to practice in the Campus Recreation pool in the Rec Center or sometimes in the Adair Hall pool.”
    2. “The consequences of this situation were particularly obvious at the conference championships in 2014. The men’s team, which discontinued its diving program because of no diving facility, outswam every conference opponent. Its point total in the swim events was the best, yet the Tribe finished second in the overall competition because it earned no points for diving”
    3. “In 2015, Tribe men’s swimming, despite having no divers, won the conference in dominating fashion and posted the second-highest point total ever at the CAA championship meet. Men’s and women’s swimming competes at the championship level, but, due to the current facility limitations, the experience for its student-athletes and fans falls short.”

      WMSB 2022 Grade: FAIL. Not only did former W&M AD Samantha Huge attempt to outright discontinue swimming at W&M (one of the school’s best performing athletics programs, by far), the men’s and women’s teams still swim out of the student rec center. Do better, W&M!
  • Updated Admissions Practices without diminishing university standards

“William & Mary should not alter its current admission standards for Tribe Athletics. It should, however, recognize the heightened intensity of pursuing these highly sought-after potential student athletes. Once implemented, these process improvement are likely to strengthen the qualifications of incoming Tribe athletes because coaches will have the ability to pursue more of their best qualified and most talented recruits, and Tribe coaches will be able to respond more quickly to any opportunities that arise during the recruiting cycle.”

WMSB 2022 Grade: MORE DATA NEEDED. We’ve always heard that W&M’s admissions office does the athletics program absolutely no favors in recruitment. Simply put, this is not good for any athletics program. If Duke, Berkeley, and Stanford can do it, we can do it; of course, W&M is in a league of its own, as a small, public, research-oriented school. Good luck finding a school in U.S. News ranked anywhere near W&M with the same attributes. Either way, for the Tribe to “more easily” compete with its CAA compatriots, change here absolutely must happen.

Who else would be psyched to tailgate on the Sunken Gardens on gameday?
  • Improved fan experience
    1. “Starting with opportunities for new campus traditions like a Sunken Garden tailgate for football games and promotional events for other sports (e.g., a “Gold Rush” game), William & Mary should continually evaluate the fan experience from the moment of arrival on campus to the appearance of athletic venues (i.e., graphics and visual impression) to the game environment (i.e., in-game and halftime entertainment).”
    2. “William & Mary recently completed a comprehensive review of its visual identity, establishing a new style guide reflecting the university’s standards. In addition, a university-wide licensing committee is working toward improving the quality and appearance of William & Mary merchandise. The Committee on Competitive Excellence applauds and strongly encourages the licensing committee in its work.”

      WMSB 2022 Grade: FAIL. With so much turnover at the AD position for W&M over the last few years, consistent improvement of fan experience seems to have fallen through the cracks. Hopefully W&M AD Brian Mann can put this back on the department’s radar from here on out. COVID certainly didn’t do any favors for the Tribe here either!

We’re excited to see what Brian Mann and his leadership team will accomplish in the coming years in Williamsburg. Taking over just last year, he’s just now getting his feet under him; with increased experience should come an increase in positive changes.

The Kaplan project is a great start, but there’s certainly far more that has to be done to ensure enhanced, sustained success for our beloved W&M Tribe moving forward.

LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

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