The Board of Visitors Committee on Athletics discussed attendance at the College of William and Mary’s string of Colonial Athletic Association championships, the men’s swim team’s lack of athletic scholarships and the CAA basketball tournament in Baltimore at their meeting Thursday.
Tribe Athletics Director Terry Driscoll presented on the College’s seven CAA championships in recent months for men’s and women’s tennis, men’s gymnastics, men’s basketball and men’s swimming, which produced six CAA titles. He noted that this has only happened five times in history of CAA.
After highlighting the men’s tennis squad’s upset over Charleston, Driscoll and the Committee discussed Tribe swimming and its lack of a scholarship program.
“It’s a tremendous credit towards what [swim coach] Matt Crispino does in recruiting great student athletes and then coaching them,” Driscoll said.
Committee members expressed their amazement that the men’s swim team beat out rivals with scholarship programs. Driscoll provided a simple explanation for the success.
“They’re faster,” Driscoll said. “One of the great things about swimming is that … there are a lot of men out there who are really good students, very disciplined, very self-motivated, which kind of goes with the sport. They’re aspiring for an opportunity for a great education. And then Matt is a terrific coach.”
College President Taylor Reveley said that the swim team’s lack of a state-of-the-art facility made their success all the more impressive.
“I think the swimming is absolutely amazing,” Reveley said. “We’ve got a pool that is ridiculous.”
During the discussion of the swim team’s high academic performance, Board member DeRonda Short J.D. ’78 brought up an article in the Wall Street Journal about how Duke basketball star Jahlil Okafor spends his free time watching Netflix instead of studying.
“I want to commend the faculty and the coaches for making sure that these students get a degree,” Short said.
Driscoll noted that there is a running joke amongst Tribe coaches — first they ask prospective athletes their names, then they ask them their SAT scores.
The conversation transitioned into men’s basketball second place finish in the 2015 CAA tournament. Short mentioned the large turnout in Baltimore and said that she had never seen so much school spirit.
“School spirit is a critical factor to making this campus a whole campus,” Short said. “We need to convey to the students how much not only the players appreciated it, but that the Board appreciated it and that we believe that we believe that this is a better place to be because they are active participants.”
Driscoll said that while the loss was heart wrenching, the basketball team played well and that the tournament allowed alumni and students to connect with one another in Maryland. Driscoll joked about how the College drew a big crowd at the arena.
“If William and Mary had not been in that championship game, [CAA Commissioner] Tom Yeager would probably have jumped off the top of the arena because it would have been a Northeastern crowd and Hofstra’s crowd,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll also said that while promotions and advertisements are important, the burden of fostering fandom in the College ultimately rests on Tribe Athletics.
“We have to play well … that’s our responsibility,” Driscoll said.
Outgoing Student Assembly president Colin Danly ’15 spoke on student interest in the game. He said that he felt that students were excited about the basketball game and that he was unable to attend due to the fact that he was sick with pneumonia.
“People really, really enjoyed it,” Danly said. “There was good coordination on my part with athletics about sending emails. Marcus [Thornton ’15] came up to me and told me how he appreciated that.”