Cameron Krakowiak ’24 (He/Him), Sports Writer
On September 9th, Davidson announced their mission to renovate and create new spaces for the football and lacrosse teams, leaving behind and renovating the nearly century-old Richardson Stadium. This investment didn’t come without a price tag, as Davidson’s project will result in a hefty 45-million-dollar investment, leaving some on campus curious and inquisitive where the money for this project came from, after the monetary loss the college suffered during the COVID-19 year and why the project was happening. Unfortunately, after multiple repeated inquiries asking for the donors’ names to all different administrators, we were told that these names were confidential and to remain as such, at the college’s and donors’ discretion to eventually reveal.
In discussing the why in terms of this project, Director of Athletics Chris Clunie ‘06 discussed how in his first year here in 2018, his program was developing a “Strategic Foundation” for athletics called ‘Athletics Done Right.’ In Davidson’s ‘Athletics Done Right’ mission statement it focused on how the college’s facilities are an integral part of building a community that supports Student Athletics.
It states a plan to “build, renovate and maintain facilities that support the mission and scholar-athlete experience.” This plan doesn’t just relate to the new renovation project but to other parts of Davidson’s facilities. Clunie mentioned projects that are happening now to help renovate some of the older facilities, such as the pool.
President Carol Quillen spoke deeply about the reasoning for the new development and why it is imperative for the “holistic education” for the students:
“We want our students to be able to develop their athletic potential to the fullest. Most of them are not going to be professional athletes. That’s not why they’re here. They’re here because playing sports has educational value. And the skills you learn in playing sports, like the skills you learn in learning how to play an instrument, or learning how to be a good actor or doing anything that’s hard — the skills you learn are life skills, right? And so most of our coaches think of themselves as educators […] and they’re part of a holistic education here at Davidson. So we need the facilities to support that part of what we do here, just like we need the facilities to support other other educational co-curricular activities […] And that means you probably shouldn’t be playing in a 100 year old stadium.”
Clunie elaborated about the study Davidson did to see what needs to be renovated, explaining, “The feasibility study helped us realize what needs to be done. And given the right moment, time, funding momentum, this is what we would do, right?”
The funding and development Clunie described outlines a lot of ways in which Davidson alumni, families and donors want to get involved. He said the funding for the project didn’t come overnight from all families but was a process over time:
“So, development essentially is fundraising. It involves stewardship. Like building relationships with people, it involves conversations around support for the college or athletics or whatever it may be. It involves formal meetings where ‘Hey, we’re gonna meet with you about a specific project and come to you with a specific ask’ but also it involves informal meetings, ‘Hey, you’re part of our gridiron club.’ It’s our Booster Club for football and I catch you for five minutes and just catch [you] up on the game this past Saturday.”
The fundraising is happening in multiple different ways and there are different variations of it. Clunie spoke about how donors get involved by asking questions such as: “What’s your biggest need right now? Is it scholarships? Is it facilities? Is it equipment?” On the other hand, he said “sometimes it’s us going to them and saying, like, ‘Hey, does this interest you? Do you want to be engaged?’ […] It happens in a myriad of ways.”
Clunie spoke about the relationships between the donors and the school with the process of development: “Development is cultivating these relationships and working to build these sorts of partnerships with parents, with alums, with donors, with former scholar athletes, whatever it may be, who love Davidson and want to support Davidson, that want to give back in impactful ways. It happens in a number of different ways.”
Davidson was able to scout the facilities and realize what needed to be changed, but much needed help from the donors has facilitated this revamp in Davidson Athletics for athletes to enjoy and thrive off of for the next several years.