Athletic Upgrades

Sporting potential: Women's soccer team, shown at last fall's Carolina Classic at UNC-CH,
will see improved facilities and additional scholarships.


Jon Gardiner

This spring the board of trustees approved Duke's first Strategic Plan for Athletics, a broad vision for bolstering the experience and development of the university's student-athletes and enhancing recreational opportunities for members of the entire university community.

The plan, developed by a committee of faculty members, students, and administrators, calls for maintaining Duke's academic standards while improving the quality of athletic programs by upgrading facilities and expanding financial support for athletics, among other measures.

Over the past ten years, Duke has won more NCAA and ACC championships than in any previous decade. During the same period, the university has consistently maintained high graduation rates and academic honors among its athletes; it is regularly among the top NCAA Division I institutions in the National Collegiate Scouting Association Power Rankings, which are based on a combination of academic and athletic achievement, and has been the top-ranked Division I school nationally in each of the past three ratings.

Officials say the new plan seeks to build on this success by maintaining Duke's core value of nurturing intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational process, while adapting to a rapidly evolving world of college sports.

To meet rising costs, the plan calls for the university to double its annual subsidy to the department to $15 million, a figure that officials say would bring it in line with other top private research universities that compete in Bowl Championship Series Division (commonly known as BCS) intercollegiate athletics, including Boston College and Vanderbilt and Wake Forest universities. This money would supplement funding generated by revenue sports such as men's basketball.

The department also plans to explore additional donor opportunities, including the selling of naming rights to campus facilities, and to increase the endowment for scholarships. The department's ultimate goal is to eliminate the annual university subsidy through an athletics endowment of around $300 million—half coming from the university—that could fully fund the program.

The document calls on Duke to maintain the quality of its top-notch basketball programs while enhancing other revenue sports, notably its football program. In December, Duke hired highly regarded head coach David Cutcliffe, and there are plans to upgrade Wallace Wade Stadium, including improvements to the bathrooms and concession stands. Among other football-related needs identified by the plan are a field house with an indoor football practice facility that could be shared with Olympic sports, club sports, and recreational athletes and a new scoreboard and TV tower at the north end of the stadium. The plan suggests that such improvements will enhance the game experience for fans and increase recruiting opportunities.

Other targeted renovations include Jack Coombs Field, home of Duke's baseball team; the Murray Building, used by the lacrosse and soccer programs; the expansion of Brodie Gymnasium on East Campus for recreational and varsity athletics use; and the continued restoration of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The plan calls for Duke to add scholarships for Olympic sports as its revenues increase and to ensure that coaching salaries are competitive with those at peer institutions.

Recreational opportunities for the university community also will improve under the plan, which calls for the creation of two new turf fields within two years for intramural and club sports. A recreation complex on the new campus planned near the existing Central Campus would be built within five years. Within the first year of the plan, the physical-education department will establish a formal Wellness and Fitness Program for first-year students on East Campus.

The timing of many of the proposed improvements has not yet been determined and will depend on the availability of funding and resources, officials say.

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