Super Change: Move to Division I athletics brings much more than just on-the-field success for TROY
Visibility provided through Division I move nearly immeasurable, coaches say
TROY Trojans’ athletics
When the Troy University Board of Trustees voted to move the University’s athletic program to the NCAA’s top level, there was more on the drawing board than on-the-field success.
The University’s athletic program with the exception of football made the transition from Division II to Division I-A beginning in 1993. Football made the move to Division I-AA in 1992, before competing in its first Division I-A season in 2002. Now, 15 years after that transition first began, the impact of that move is being felt University-wide.
“The move was never about athletics,” said Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr. “Instead, it was a decision about advancing the entire University. In this sports-minded world in which we live, one of the best tools for generating visibility for a University is through athletics. I have been very proud of the success that all of our sports programs have had since making the move to Division I.”
TROY Director of Athletics Steve Dennis agrees.
“Moving the TROY’s athletic programs to the Division I level was a tremendous decision by the leadership of this University,” Dennis said. “The leadership wants Troy University to be the best University it can be, and you can’t be the best if you are only going to advance in some areas while leaving others behind.”
One obvious way in which the Division I move has been beneficial to the University as a whole is through exposure.
“The success of our athletic programs has elevated the visibility of the University substantially,” Dr. Hawkins said. “For instance, in 1990 when this process began, the worldwide enrollment of Troy University was 14,000. Today, enrollment is approaching 31,000. While one cannot conclude that athletics alone is responsible for more than doubling our enrollment during that time, the visibility it has provided has certainly contributed. What’s more, it has enabled us to continue to provide that individual attention to our students through improved facilities such as the Trojan Student Center, residence halls and academic buildings.”
In addition to increased visibility for the University, Dr. Hawkins believes the move has helped to strengthen the TROY alumni base.
“There is a new-found pride that I have seen manifested in our alumni,” Dr. Hawkins said. “I feel safe in saying that we are witnessing a time where there has never been more pride in Troy University. And, that will only continue to grow.”
Tangible evidence of the positive impact the move to Division I has had can be seen in the increased sale of TROY merchandize. In 2001, the University recorded around $300,000 in royalty-bearing sales of TROY merchandize. In 2008, the University is on track to have royalty-bearing sales of close to $2 million.
Dennis believes that the University will continue to build on that growing pride among its supporters.
“We are only going to be as good as a University as our supporters want us to be,” Dennis said. “There are numbers of ways for people to become involved with the University and that is vital to our future. I think TROY people want this University to be the best it can be and I think that they realize that through their support we all benefit in the long run.”
Dr. Hawkins said the impact of the move to Division I on the University cannot be underestimated.
“The University is like a fine symphony where each instrument has a role,” Dr. Hawkins said. “In isolation, a single instrument might not have the desired effect, but when all parts are played together the result is pleasing.”
Ellis is a university relations coordinator and editor of Troy University Magazine.