During his keynote address at the Shawnee State University Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, Feb. 5, SSU President Rick Kurtz announced the expansion of SSU Athletics to include four new varsity intercollegiate teams: men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s tennis, and women’s golf.
“Athletics is a vital part of campus life,” Kurtz told a crowd of 120 in attendance. “Athletics also impacts student satisfaction and our ability to attract and keep students. Expanding our teams will provide opportunities for more students through scholarships and a chance to continue competing in their chosen sport beyond high school. It also enhances student life for all our students.”
SSU’s four new teams will begin fall 2016 and will join Shawnee State’s 13 current teams: men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, track, and soccer; men’s baseball and golf; and women’s softball, tennis and volleyball. Shawnee State competes in the Mid-South Conference and is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Kurtz said that as part of its strategic planning process, the University is looking at additional sports in the future, including men’s and women’s bowling.
“We have several strategic initiatives being implemented on campus,” Kurtz said. “Expansion of athletics is one that we believe will have a tremendous impact on recruitment and retention.”
During the dinner Kurtz recognized community partners who are helping to make expansion of athletics possible through their generosity, including Dr. William Daehler and Reece Brown.
Daehler is a long-time supporter of Shawnee State who helped provide an outdoor tennis facility on campus in 2008. The Daehler Tennis Center is home to SSU’s women’s tennis team and plans are underway for a second phase of renovations to the facility as men’s tennis is added.
Brown is a Shawnee State alum and former SSU cross country runner. His support is helping SSU compete in track and field, in addition to cross country.
Kurtz also thanked Portsmouth City Schools for their partnership and use of their facilities for SSU Track and Field.