Making Rice Athletics a premier program in the country continues to be an evolving vision, further strengthed by the rollout of a new strategic plan.
On Friday, Rice announced the details of their 2019 Rice Athletics Strategic Plan. You can read the complete plan in detail, here. At its core, the framework is built around a continued commitment to winning at Rice, both on the field and in the classroom. Achieving that, alongside the growth of the Rice Athletics brand headline the priorities in this coming season.
Investment will be crucial to reaching those heights. The Strategic Plan provides some insight into how Rice plans to do this. The plan notes goals to “ensure adequate training space in support of high-performance goals” and to “renovate Rice Stadium”.
This seems to coincide with reports earlier this spring concerning a new practice bubble which is currently in the works. That facility, combined with a much-needed refresh of the stadium itself, will go hand in hand with increasing the effectiveness of the individual athletics programs and the fan engagement.
As for what areas of the stadium are at the forefront of the remake, Senior Associate AD Tanner Gardner said the focal point would be fan facing amenities such as common areas, the concourse, bathrooms, seating, club space and suites. The objective, as Gardner put it, is “to make our stadium a modern stadium” by building onto the existing structure in new ways. There won’t be any wrecking balls, but there will be new technology and excitement.
Commitment to winning
Building those facilities won’t be enough in itself to further winning at Rice. Athletic programs around the nation have made it clear that top end facilities plus top end talent leads to success on the field.
Further goals specify the intention to “create a special fund for extraordinary recruiting expenses”. What that looks like in reality remains to be seen, but opening up the purse to secure greater access to talent is essential to taking the next step athletically across all sports.
The obvious starting point is football, where a renewed commitment to a national search has necessitated an increased spending commitment. Said another way, money should not be the issue Rice can’t reach a recruit.
If Rice can do those things, they’ll set themselves up to fulfill their goals of building a strong brand. “Our goal is to always improve our standing in the college athletics world,” Gardner summarized, “Our job is to do the right thing. If we do the right thing we’ll get the right results.” It’s true, those right results are a ways away. But these principals set Rice up in the right direction. Now it’s time to execute.
Other notable goals and objectives
- The formalization of summer bridge athletic programs for incoming freshman
- The creation of a student-athlete development position
- Biofeedback devices being incorporated into training and recovery efforts
- Non-athletics programming such as movie nights and fun runs
- Young alumni engagement strategy