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John T. Casteen III U.Va. President Announces Actions University Will Take on Recent Athletics Task Force Report

May 4, 2001-- University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III today announced plans to address the recent recommendations of the Strategic Planning Task Force on Athletics in a meeting with U.Va. coaches and senior athletics department officials. 

Casteen divided the recommendations into two groups -- academic and financial. He assigned those related to athletes' academic success to Peter W. Low, the University's provost and chief academic officer, and to Carolyn M. Callahan, the University's veteran NCAA faculty representative who chaired the athletics task force. These recommendations include strategies for (1) improving communication among athletics, academic, and admissions personnel; (2) improving academic advising and support services; and (3) enrolling more incoming student-athletes in the University's summer transition program.

"The task force sought to improve the student-athletes' academic experience so we could provide an education within the context of our commitment to sustaining excellence in learning and teaching, and to teaching students the University's value system, including the student-run honor system," Casteen said. "Over the years, deans, faculty members, and certainly our students have worked hard to build extraordinarily high graduation rates. We admire that accomplishment and intend to sustain it. That goal requires exactly the diligence and commitment the task force recommended." 

Casteen and Leonard Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, will work together on the recommendations for financing varsity athletics to ensure students have the best and broadest range of competitive sports from which to choose. Issues include the base adequacy of the athletics budget, available economies in operating the program, and strategies to comply with NCAA regulations as well as with applicable law, including Title IX. 

Casteen said many of the task force's recommendations concern program management rather than Board of Visitors policy. He and Sandridge consult regularly with University Rector John P. Ackerly III of Richmond and the board's committee on student affairs and athletics on such matters.

"The recommendations on the future financing of varsity athletics point us toward many options, including increasing revenue through fundraising and raising fees," Casteen said. "We will examine all of the options presented by the task force and will consult widely with officials facing similar problems at other schools. We're not in the kind of crisis that has driven others to act precipitously or to make behind-the-scene changes. Our programs' current finances are sound. But we have seen the signs of significant future distress and do not want that. We want to sustain the good aspects of our current programs and support our people.

"We will analyze every option and explore every avenue," Casteen said. "In the end, we will do what is best for the University and for our students. Changes will not come overnight. We will continue to consult with persons affected by any changes that will have to come if new revenues are not found. Donors and boosters who can mobilize resources to sustain programs will alleviate many of the harshest prospects by helping us build the endowments necessary to operate sports that cannot pay their own way. 

"The task force focused everyone's attention on hard choices, but it also pointed us toward new options. Academics, athletics, and sound management function here hand in hand and not at cross-purposes. The goal is to keep that happening."

Contact: Louise Dudley, (804) 924-1400

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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