The Future of Colgate Athletics: An interview with Colgate Athletic Director, Dave Roach

Paul: Would you please comment about the possibility of a new hockey rink and an extension to the fitness center?

Roach: “We did a conceptual plan and a feasibility study which included building a new ice hockey arena, a renovation of Reid Athletic Center and a new fitness center. With all of those projects, we have plans in place, and it’s a matter of fundraising. But with the economy being the way it is right now, fundraising has slowed down, so we have to put it in perspective.”

P: There have been heavy rumors that Fordham wants to leave the Patriot League if the conference does not go to scholarships. Does the Patriot League have any plans to go that route?

R: “Well it’s been out in the media that Fordham is thinking about going to scholarships, and we’ve had some discussion within the league as to what that might mean for the league. At this stage, nothing has been finalized or decided or concrete. We’re in what I’d like to call an exploratory stage now.”

P: Does the Colgate Athletic Department have any big future plans, much like installing lights at Andy Kerr Stadium this year?

R: “There’s nothing planned right now that I would say is a big noticeable renovation or sprucing up. We’ll just be doing the normal things that we do in the summer here and there to make sure that things are maintained and still look good.”

P: Do you have any thoughts about what the overall impact of scholarships has been on Colgate ever since they were instituted in 2004?

R: “Well when scholarships were instituted five years ago, Colgate said that once the first class graduated (2008), they would do a review of the athletic scholarships program and see if it accomplished the intended result. That committee has done work essentially all academic year, and they’ll probably be finished in a little over a month. I don’t really want to say what the results are going to be, but right now it looks like what was intended, in terms of the academic and athletic expectations of incoming student-athletes, have been met.”

P: What would say have been Colgate’s biggest athletic improvements over the past 5 years?

R: “With the scholarships, we’re attracting a better student and a better athlete, and that’s put us at a higher competitive level in some sports, but there are many factors that go into athletic success in a given year. So it’s hard to pinpoint whether the scholarships are the only thing that’s led to some of that success, but I would say overall that over the last five years, we have tried to enhance our facilities. We’ve added Field Turf and lights for Andy Kerr to give our student-athletes a better venue to practice and play. We’ve tried to increase attendance at games with the Rowdy Raider program. We have changed the Colgate logo so we have a more uniform brand and look. Obviously, Raider has come in as our mascot. I do think that the overall attraction of Colgate athletics has been good over the years.”

P: What has been your favorite moment during this school year?

R: “My favorite moment is getting up every day, having a job that I love, and getting to work with great student athletes and coaches. I don’t want to single out any particular moment but I would say the most satisfying thing of this year, or really any year in athletics, is working with great student-athletes. Hopefully myself, the staff and the coaches have had an impact on student-athletes’ careers here at Colgate and their future.”

P: How has the recession affected Colgate Athletics and the Patriot League?

R: “Well it’s no secret that on campus, there is a 5 percent budget decrease for next year. And I think 5 percent–I don’t want to say its easy to come up with–but we can always find ways to do things better. So it has challenged us to look at everything we do and how we do it, and we have to ask ourselves, ‘Is this something that we should be spending money on or can we move it somewhere else?’ But our overriding philosophy with it is that you don’t want to affect the student athlete experience playing a sport and partaking in competition, so we might have to change how we operate with some of the things that we don’t have to do to keep a good experience. So we’ve done that at Colgate and we’re doing it league-wide. For example, we were all meeting at the Patriot League office for head coach meetings in person, but now we’re doing it by conference call. And banquets before tournaments-it’s not something that we need to do. It’s nice, but in these economic times, those need to be put on hold for a while. So were looking at everything to operate more efficiently without affecting the student athlete experience.

P: This school year has been a great one for Colgate athletics, with the Raiders winning three conference championships before the spring season.

R: “I would say is a credit to our student athletes that balance their academics and athletics really well, and to our dedicated group of coaches that work really hard and to Colgate University for giving us the support to be able to run our program of excellence.”