Together, we help CMU student-athletes reach their potential

Oct. 10, 2017

Investing in the student-athlete experience.

It's a phrase that many of us who work in intercollegiate athletics use on a near daily basis. We talk about this investment when soliciting the support of donors or when outlining a vision for coaches or campus partners. But what does it mean to invest in the student-athlete experience?

One very obvious way is by providing them the tools and facilities necessary to compete at an elite level. Since my arrival in July, I have worked with our development staff and leaders across campus to move aggressively on the north end zone facility project. I am proud to announce that a request for proposal will go out soliciting bids from sports architects around the country to design this building.

I have a great deal of experience in completing first-class building projects including everything from a $7 million basketball facility at Oklahoma to one of the world's finest stadiums in Arlington, Texas. Hiring an architect who has experience building the kind of facility we envision in Kelly/Shorts Stadium is a critical step toward making this facility a reality. The renderings this vendor will provide will bolster already strong fundraising efforts that began in earnest last year.

Over the last decade, we have made incremental improvements to the athletics corridor south of Broomfield Road. Nearly each one of our student-athletes has seen his or her experience improved by the addition of facilities like the John G. Kulhavi Events Center, McGuirk Arena, the Performance Development Center and the CMU Soccer/Lacrosse Complex. The time is now to build a facility that progresses the vision of ONE CMU in its positive impact on our entire student population. Not only will this multi-faceted facility enhance the experience for our student-athletes and the game day atmosphere at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, but it will also offer a host of amenities that will benefit current students and alumni alike.

We also invest in the student-athlete experience by finding ways to answer President George Ross' charge that all of us at CMU are responsible for preparing future leaders. One of the signature programs we have developed since my arrival has been the Chippewa Leadership Academy.

The leadership academy offers a set of curricula that sharpens our student-athletes skills with each progressing year. As freshman, student-athletes learn our core values from a diverse array of coaches, exposing them to perspectives beyond the ones in their respective locker rooms.

As sophomores and juniors, we bring in key note speakers who are leaders in their respective fields to broaden the leadership focus beyond just the realm of intercollegiate athletics. Bestselling author and motivational speaker Bob Beaudine addressed this group in September.

Finally, a select group of upperclassmen comprise our captain's table. I interact with this group regularly as we aim to hone their craft as leaders and seek to improve our department through their feedback. As we at CMU work each day to answer the question of what it means to invest in the student-athlete experience, the natural follow-up question is, "what is the return on that investment?" That is one question I am proud to field.

Coming out of the spring semester, our student-athletes posted a collective GPA of 3.162, marking the 37th straight semester of our student-athletes achieving a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Of our roughly 475 student-athletes, 314 earned a 3.0 or better with 31 earning a 4.0! Finally, for the second-straight year we have a candidate for the Academic Heisman in senior linebacker Joe Ostman.

Our student-athletes do things the right way at CMU. They believe in the process and work hard to meet and exceed the high expectations incumbent on all who wear the maroon and gold. I sincerely hope you'll join me as we make the kind of transformational investment in the student-athlete experience that they have rightfully earned.

Fire up Chips!

Michael Alford Signature

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