Division III athletics often fall victim to a feeling of non-legitimacy. Unlike their larger Division I and II counterparts, small budgets limit the support the athletic departments can provide, which can leave the athletes feeling undervalued.
Mike Holmes, athletic director of Franciscan University, does not want this to be the case. In his first full year as Athletic director, Holmes is looking to give the department a makeover with the goal of “wanting the athletes to feel appreciated.”
“Our goal,” stated Holmes, “is to be a Catholic institution, who is strong on the national level but hasn’t compromised its mission and morals.”
These advancements consist mainly of basic cosmetic changes to give off a more high-profile feel. These changes include a FUS logo statistics cart for outdoor events. such as rugby, lacrosse and soccer. A lit scorer’s table for indoor events will also be provided.
One improvement that Holmes is particularly excited about is the running of power and internet from the friary to the soccer field and eventually beyond to the softball and rugby fields. This will give parents and friends from around the country the ability to watch their favorite Barons.
Holmes is also working on policy changes that will allow more control for coaches. With structural changes like this, Holmes is raising the expectations for the coaches. He is promoting a change in the athletic culture at the university. “We are right where we want to be for a ten-year-old program,” stated Holmes. But this is just the beginning.
Holmes has a vision for the athletic department. Over the course of the next few years, he hopes to add more teams to the athletic lineup, raising the number of sports from 16 to more than 20. This increase will hopefully bring more interest in the university and expand the numbers in the athletic department overall.
Holmes also wants to expand the recruiting base to increase the sizes of the rosters for individual teams. Because of the uniqueness of the university, many students hail from all around the country. This diversity of students makes the recruiting process difficult. Holmes said that the department needs to improve recruiting close to home, which is the base of any good program.
The goal behind it all is to allow Franciscan University Athletics to be competitive on a national level across the board. As the rosters grow and the teams find success, the athletic facilities need to improve with them. Holmes also said that down the road he sees larger improvements with the athletic facilities. To compete on the national level, high quality athletic performance facilities are necessary.
The goal of these improvements is to fulfill the mission of the athletic department. Holmes wants to build Franciscan athletics into a program that not only competes in the national arena, but also succeeds. In doing so, Holmes is committed to maintaining the Catholic identity of the university.
Under the vision and leadership of Holmes, the athletic department is in good hands. This semester’s improvements are just the first step in an exciting plan for the department. The Barons are building something special, and the development will be intriguing to follow.