CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati department of athletics will reinstate and increase funding to its Olympic sports scholarship programs, ensuring they are able to compete at the highest level nationally, director of athletics Whit Babcock announced Tuesday.
Beginning in the fall of 2013-14, UC will implement an aggressive plan to ultimately offer the full NCAA complement of grant-in-aid scholarships to student-athletes in each of its 19 programs.
Due to fiscal constraints in 2009, the department previously reduced scholarship funding for a number of sports and eliminated all scholarships for three sports which included men’s cross country, men’s track and field, and men’s swimming and diving. Today’s announcement reverses that decision and reinforces UC’s commitment to comprehensive excellence across the board.
“To consistently win championships and compete at the level we aspire, we must provide the resources necessary for our coaches to recruit, retain, and graduate our student-athletes who proudly represent the Bearcats,” Babcock said. “We’ve been ‘fully funded’ in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and some other sports for a number of years, but today is a big step in the right direction to afford all of our sports and student-athletes that same opportunity. It’s a critical time in our history and this is significant for our future.”
UC fields 10 women’s teams (basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field and volleyball) and nine men’s sports (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving and indoor and outdoor track and field).
To help fund this initiative, UC athletics is taking a multi-pronged approach, including undertaking an aggressive fundraising initiative called the “110% Campaign” which requests that existing UCATS (University of Cincinnati Athletics Team Support) donors give an additional 10 percent on top of their gift from last year and that new, first-time donors give at a minimum level of $110. Gifts from over 5,000 UCATS members directly impact the scholarship needs of each of the University’s 19 programs and serves as the primary financial support for all athletics scholarships on an annual basis.
Football head coach Tommy Tuberville is supporting the cause and will donate $300,000 over the next five years to benefit UC’s Olympic sports programs, as announced during his introductory press conference in December.
“I’m making this commitment because it’s the right thing to do,” Tuberville said. “These student-athletes compete as hard as all of us. They need to know we fully support them and their sports. We are all part of one team here at UC and winning is contagious. It starts with players, it starts with scholarships.”
“The return of athletic scholarships to swimming and diving is monumental beyond just the University of Cincinnati,” swimming and diving head coach Monty Hopkins said. “This will have an enormous impact that will transcend more than one particular program. I applaud our athletic department and university leadership for their vision and the bold steps taken to give us this opportunity.”
UC swimming had a team GPA of 3.2 for the women’s team and 3.1 for the men last semester.
Incoming men’s track and field head coach Kris Mack echoed Hopkins’ statement.
“Having the full complement of scholarships allows us to recruit the best student-athletes in the world,” Mack said. “Every coach dreams of winning conference and eventually national championships and this opportunity puts us on an equal playing field with the rest of the Division I teams in the country. Recruiting is the fuel and lifeline of all top-tier programs and I can’t thank our athletics and university leadership enough for helping us reignite the fire and build a national-caliber team.”
Men’s track and field had a team GPA of 2.8 last semester, and cross country a 3.1.
“The increase of our scholarships allows us the opportunity to compete at the highest level,” said women’s lacrosse head coach Gina Oliver. “I am grateful to our university and the athletic department. This will make the entire athletics department better.”
Women’s lacrosse had a team GPA of 3.4 last semester.
Consistent with the University mission, one central tenet of Babcock’s program is a commitment to comprehensive excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
“We are in an era where athletic departments are routinely cutting budgets and even sports,” Babcock said. “By fully funding scholarships in all of our sports, we can help our coaches achieve our championship expectations. It’s an aggressive undertaking and I’m confident we can achieve it. The increased scholarship funding will also enable more young men and women to attend UC and receive a first-class education, some of whom will be first-generation college students. This is an exciting day for the future of our department and University.”
For more information on joining UCATS, please call 877-55-UCATS or visit GoBEARCATS.com.