February 13, 2015 at 3:07 am #18446
We’re rolling. Absolutely can’t let it slow down. For reference, undergrad enrollments:
We can get there.February 13, 2015 at 4:15 am #18449
Todd I’d agree with you if it weren’t for the AI. And that we will never leave Bucknell or Lafayette behind, precluding our moving to a higher level league. I think the best we can do is the Davidson model, before they moved to the A10. And really, that would not be a bad place to be. We may actually be headed in that direction.February 13, 2015 at 4:55 am #18450
Aren’t we getting just a little bit ahead of ourselves? We’re in 3rd place in the PL with a record just a little above .500.February 13, 2015 at 10:36 am #18455
Yes we are! But being an alum from the era when Lehigh didn’t have basketball (3 winning seasons in 47 years isn’t basketball) it’s fun to dream!February 13, 2015 at 1:18 pm #18461
Yes, I’m getting WAY ahead of myself. Over-amped, but having fun. And I didn’t even mean to imply anything about leaving the PL. Just talking about building a hoops tradition. I see those schools as examples of what’s possible.February 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm #18468
This is definitely premature. It’s certainly nice to see all the young talent in the program and I think the league as a whole is on the upswing. As you will see below, Lehigh is certainly getting good return on investment in the program.
Just to put things into perspective with some of the programs mentioned above, are some spending numbers. These #’s are reported differently by different schools but still serve as a nice guideline. I included the schools mentioned above plus some of our PL brethren. These are 2013 numbers in millions:
Gonzaga – $5.9
Butler – $4.2
Davidson – $2.0
Bucknell – $2.0
Holy Cross – $1.75
Lafayette – $1.63
Lehigh – $1.38February 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm #18471
I too come from a bit earlier era than jim. My 4+yrs,no winning seasons. In fact doubt the total wins for that time much exceeded our #of wins this year. Agree tho that this team over the next 3 yrs has the potential to be very good nationallyFebruary 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm #18472
This is my favorite topic, way to go Todd:
I watched game last night with my wife and kids. My wife went to UNC and is a basketball snob. She will root for Lehigh, but almost like she is rooting for a high school team. Her first comment is usually why is it so empty in the arena. My kids are UNC obsessed as well, and prefer the up tempo playground style they play (which I hate, and I think Roy Williams is just an awful game day coach). After the first half last night, I think they are finally converting over to big fans of PL basketball. (Well, Duke win was huge on all fronts in my house.) My wife couldn’t believe the level of basketball Lehigh played in the first half. Almost like a “Wow, these guys are pretty good”. What I have been preaching to them for years is the PL basketball is really good basketball. Any D1 basketball is high level. The good PL teams, as we all know, can compete with the best in the nation. Just look at Lehigh in their 3 big OOC conference games this year, won 2 and played a top 10 team close. ASU beat Arizona, etc., etc. Lehigh, and the PL, is a very good product.
That all said, I have been dreaming of a move to a place like the A-10 for years. I am thrilled with the increased talent that we are seeing year after year. What burns me is the lack of support for the program from administrators, fans and students. It’s a flat out disgrace.
I don’t really see a lot of upside for Lehigh football. PL football is not very good. And, even if you win the PL and get a bid into the FCS tournament, you are playing schools 6x bigger than you, and it is nearly impossible to compete. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled when Lehigh football does well, but I don’t see the potential like I do in basketball. PL will never be near the top echelon of FCS football. Wrestling and lacrosse are doing well, forever for wrestling and recently for lax, but those are not prime time college sports, much more of a niche product. That is why I think basketball has the most potential of all of the Lehigh sports. You only need a few studs to build a big program and you can do it at a small school. You can’t do that in football, unless you are Notre Dame, and we don’t have that tradition.
Unfortunately, I don’t see us going anywhere in conference or level. A-10 would be good for hoops, but what about football? I guess you would need to look at a school like Richmond, Nova or Fordham, with a blended approach. Something like A-10 for hoops only, and PL for football or maybe Colonial for football. Or, a jump to a bigger conference for all sports like UMass and the MAC. The MAC doesn’t have much appeal for me. I think it would take about 20 winning seasons, with maybe 10 NCAA appearances, and a renewed fan support to move the needle to the point where a conference change could happen. Or, a very wealthy alumni with a real love of sports who could push with dollars to make it happen (like a T. Boone Pickens at OSU). Short of that, we are pretty much where we are.
And, finally, I think the administration is very short-sited in this area. If Lehigh had a big time basketball program it would drive applications and admissions to the moon. It has been proven time and time again how athletics and notoriety can drive interest in the school and applications. Flutie put BC on the map, and now BC is in the echelon of Georgetown and Notre Dame, when they used to be more like a Villanova or Providence. Duke’s basketball program drove Duke’s profile higher and higher, now every kid in America wants to go there. A lot of kids want to go to a place with big time sports, and Lehigh falls short in that area. Amazing school, but it’s nice to go to a packed stadium or arena, and see your team on TV.
Last thought on this … I know Lehigh has the Asa Packer Society for larger donors at increasing levels. But, I don’t believe that they have an athletic supporters fundraising group, or if they do, I don’t hear about it. UNC has the Ram Club, which is dollars directly to sports, SMU (where I went to grad school) has the Mustang Club which raises huge money for sports (so they can hire guys like Larry Brown and pay their football coach $2M per season). Every big school I know of has booster clubs like this. Once you get these things going, money can come in to raise your program status, then you sell prime seats to members of your “Mountain Hawk Club” (and a $5,000 donation to get the best seats). Even Temple does this with their Owl Club, and courtside seats take a huge donation. That might be a good first step to building a sports tradition.February 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm #18474
Wow,that was a blog. Agree about fund raising,all of our PL foes have fund raising clubs. The sport partnersips are our mode. Most of our travel and recruiting expenses in football come from there. LU has been fixated on all fund raising to be run in house. The only exception is Southside Boosters,and they ,altho still great,not nearly what they were in the 50s and 60s.If we want that to change,it is up to Alumni to organize it. Joe does a great job selling and running our program. He does access a bunch of deep pocket alums. Still could be better.
Disagree a bit on institutional support. We are currently stuck with the decision made 50 yrs ago to move athletics over the mountain.Otherwise,we are lucky that we have a cooperative Admissions,unlike Cross and Pards and good annual funding. Facilities need major upgrades, Stabler and Goodman.
Overall can we really bitch too much. With few exceptions,we are good to very good in most sports.February 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm #18475
Curious – what’s the issue with admissions at HC and Easton Tech?February 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm #18476
I think any discussion of moving conferences is super premature. The PL is a very solid mid major league, with some good teams. I see the conference continuing to improve and there is a lot of good young talent across the league.
I do like the idea of perhaps renaming the Athletics Partnership with something a little more catchy. I (a non alum) would give a few dollars to a Hawk Hoop Club for instance and have given to the Athletics Partnership in the past. Rich, do the South Side Boosters support athletics financially, or do their dues go to tailgates, trips, etc and not funding the programs?
Assuming the university is not making any moves to build a new hoops venue (I haven’t heard even a whisper), I do think the time is right for some upgrades to Stabler. The PPL Center is taking many graduations and events from Stabler, including the Steelhawks. It would be great to take the opportunity to make Stabler a more sports focused facility. Bring the sideline seats closer to the floor (make them a steeper incline if necessary – Lehigh is an engineering school, they can figure it out), turn the upper level in the open end into either a President’s Reception suite or a weight room/training facility for the men and women overlooking the floor. Put in some videoboards and a dedicated student entrance that the bus drops kids off.February 13, 2015 at 5:03 pm #18477
Pards Admissions under prior regime vrry restrictive on athletic slots and lower band recruits. New Pres now,too early to know if it has changed. Doesn’ t seem it has as LC no longer permits donations for schollies to be paid in installments,the common method. Now,the full amt of the schollie must be paid up front. This is why Pards only had 14 schollies to give this year. Cross is an absolute war between AD and Admissions.Gilmore has a very toigh task to get any low or mid band recruits in.February 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm #18478
Here is the site for the Lehigh Athletics Partnership. I make an annual donation.
The difference with Lehigh is that for a relatively small school, we finance a full slate of sports. Donors are financing a new softball field, a completely refurbished baseball complex, a new golf facility, the Caruso wrestling room, the additions to the Cunley Fieldhouse and I believe a new tennis facility.
Is the fact that the athletic facilities are over the mountain a problem? To some degree but there is ample transportation to get students there and back. Wrestling is still on campus but student participation there is still low. I still believe that all the broadcasting is a double edged sword. Service Electric broadcasts much of our football and basketball locally. Perhaps it increases our exposure but it also gives students and townspeople another reason not to venture out of their dorms, frats or houses. The Patriot League is live streaming most sporting events now. It’s wonderful for keeping alumni around the world engaged but it’s also another reason why you may not have to show up.
Just my opinion.February 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm #18479
No, Southside only supports itself now. I do know there are plans for upgrading Stabler. Funding? IMO ,needs scoreboard,improved sightlines ,that should include moving stands closer to Court,among others.
Best of all ,wish they could just move it all back to Grace and redo Grace and Taylor,into a single updated complexFebruary 13, 2015 at 5:16 pm #18480
Joe’s access to deep pockets in play. Softball looks great. I give to a couple of partnerships each year. Just believe that besidss relying on the AD and phoneathons,a separate alumni booster group could raise significant additional funds.
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