Bruce McCutcheon made one point very clear this past fall when he was named the 10th director of athletics in Lafayette's history. He is committed to changing the focus of Lafayette's athletic programs from participant-based to competitive-based.
Simply put, McCutcheon doesn't want to see Lafayette just field teams to play games. He wants to see the Leopards compete for league championships.
Three of his major initiatives that support that commitment have already received the backing of the College's central administration and the Maroon Club. Two of them - the renovation of the Maroon Club Strength Center and the creation of an athletic facilities master plan - have an effect on each of the 23 athletic programs. The third is the creation of a full-time head volleyball coaching position.
The strength center renovation is nearly completed, providing an immediate impact for all varsity programs.
"Through the support of the College, we were able to air condition the facility, paint it and upgrade the lighting," McCutcheon said. "The center is now brighter, and environmentally controlled which is a significant improvement.
"Through the support of the Maroon Club, we purchased 10 state-of-the-art Power Stations that enable more student-athletes the ability to get through a more physically challenging workout in a shorter period of time. The center will have banners and wall treatment that will instill pride in the student-athletes and 'wow' the prospective student-athletes that see it on their visits. This project was made possible through both College and private financial support and we are so very grateful."
When the strength center opened in the spring of 1990, it was the premier strength and conditioning facility in the Patriot League. Over time that ranking has slipped, forcing the need to renovate and upgrade.
"You cannot compete successfully at the Division I level without a commitment to getting stronger and more fit than your opponent," McCutcheon added. "Our theme for the strength center is 'Championships Start Here' and we are developing a facility that allows our student-athletes to fully reach their potential."
The athletic facilities master plan, which is targeted for a Fall 2002 completion, will provide the road map necessary for Lafayette to make critical decisions for the athletic complex in both the short term and well into the future.
Cannon Design, a nationally ranked architectural, engineering and planning firm, has been selected to develop the master plan. Cannon Design served as sports planner and programmer for the College's $35 million Allan P. Kirby Sports Center project that was dedicated in June of 2000.
"The goal of the Athletics Facility Master Plan is to assess the current athletic facilities inventory and compare that inventory to our program needs, plus bench mark those findings against Patriot League members," McCutcheon said. "Although we will look at the entire athletics footprint, priorities will include the Metzgar athletic campus including the McCracken Varsity House, Fisher Field, the basketball arena and the natatorium."
The head volleyball coach has been a part-time position since 1991 and the Leopards have enjoyed just one winning season since that time.
"The lack of success in the volleyball program can be directly attributed to the lack of full-time coaching support," McCutcheon explained. "One only needs to look at the current success of the women's soccer program to see the benefits of a full-time head coach. In order to provide the highest quality experience for Lafayette's volleyball players, the issue of coaching needed to be addressed. Through a cooperative approach including College and Maroon Club financial support, the creation of a full-time head coaching position for volleyball was approved and a search for that individual has begun."