GLENS FALLS — SUNY Adirondack President Kristine Duffy believes that a new $3.8 million multi-sport turf field would raise the profile of the community college’s athletics and attract more students.
“We’re pretty sleepy about our athletics in the past, and part of it has been (the college’s) facility and part of it is culture. We’re looking to reimagine that,” she said last Thursday in a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board.
The proposed field would be used by soccer, lacrosse, softball and perhaps baseball teams and include stadium seating and lighting.
In the last few years, the college added a full-time athletic director. Now she said it needs to work on its facilities.
Only 140 students are participating in athletics, according to Duffy. Most of the teams do not have full rosters. She would like to raise the number of student-athletes to 240.
However, Duffy said that is tough to do that when student-athletes visit the college and see a nice empty grass field, which is not very attractive compared with some of the facilities and competing institutions.
“We think there’s a lot of students that could stay home and still maintain their interest in athletics, if we actually had the facilities,” she said.
Duffy said community colleges cannot give out scholarships to student athletes. However, college foundations can.
In addition, Duffy said students have shown that colleges that have increased athletics have increased their enrollment.
“Students like to be there because it’s something to do and something to rally around,” she said.
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Baseball is one of the college’s strongest programs. The college just started a new men’s lacrosse team, which will compete in the spring. It is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. Starting a women’s lacrosse team would be the next logical step.
College officials are also considering track-and-field.
The facility also would be able to host other games for high schools. Duffy said that would bring in some revenue, but she stressed that the field would be primarily for the college.
Duffy said this project may be done over a variety of phases.
To pay for the facility, the college plans to use donations and chargebacks, which is money other counties send to pay for students who attend SUNY Adirondack from outside of Warren and Washington counties.
This is still at the early stages, as the request has to go through a review process before both counties and the state.
Another facility that must be addressed is the gymnasium, according to Duffy. The college is replacing the roof and floor and doing some modest cosmetic work this fall, so it is out of service. However, more work is needed including installation of a better ventilation system and air condition.
Duffy said another idea worth exploring is the whole concept of esports. She said some of these video game tournaments are attracting competitors from all over the world.
SUNY Canton is leading the way on this issue and is already a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
“It’s out there and it might be an opportunity,” she said.