Varsity athletics to stay at Johnson

NVU Athletics

NVU Athletics

After the merger of NVU, Castleton, and Vermont Tech, there will be little to no shifting or changing of the current athletic programs on each campus.

Interim Athletic Director Greg Eckman has done much of the legwork to keep athletics on campus at Johnson.

“The different deep dives and analysis that we were going through both of our current model and also what possible future models would be based upon some of the feedback from the sponsors and just other directions,” Eckman said. “As that financial analysis and those deep dives progressed, there was an understanding of the value of the student experience that athletics helps to bring to the campuses. We were really able to show through many different forms of data, such as residential life, whose students that live on campus, in-state out-of-state, our demographics, our BIPOC ratio of our students, GPA, student retention; so, we really looked at a lot of different avenues of data, not only on our campus, but also on the Lyndon, Vermont Tech, and the Castleton campuses. Through all the different analysis, a lot of different questions were asked, and more questions were uncovered. At the end of the day, they really showed that there was value in the residential experience for students and that athletics was a very important piece of that. There’s just some consistency about what campus life is and would hope to be in the new institution, so it was great to hear the announcement from the presentation to the Board of Trustees by our consulting firm that the transition team is putting forward that each campus is going to keep their mascots, the athletic departments are going to stay, and we’ll, as we always have, reevaluate in the future to make sure that we’re correctly utilized and sized to offer a great varsity athletic offering for our students and our student athletes.”

Now that the current the athletic model has earned the support of the transition team and the board of trustees, Johnson’s athletic department is able to look toward a future with varsity athletics staying on campus.

“We were in the discovery phase prior,” said Eckman, “so that was discovering all the information and best practices. Now, with this direction, we’re able to move to the design phase. Now we’re going to start utilizing the information that we’ve discovered and move in the direction that we want to go in. The questions now are, how do we design the future of our athletic departments on campus? To me, this is a really exciting page that we’re turning as to not austerity measures, and not looking at where we can cut back in, but let’s work where there might be some growth opportunities. There really is a lot of optimism and a lot of hope right now. Now it’s our job to deliver on a great design that’s going to sustain the next three to five and then many years beyond.”

An announcement like this has much larger, sweeping implications for the Johnson campus as well. “It’s not just the athletic department that I think these breathing of select collective sigh of relief,” said Eckman. “I think it’s the overall student experience, student activities, residential life; I think that there were so many pieces that we were all interwoven together. An announcement like this indicates that we are going to need residential halls on campuses. We are going to need College Apartments, we do need student life, we do need on-campus presence, we do need in-person, face-to-face classes. That’s reading into their announcement a little bit, but that was exactly what they were saying. It was definitely like, wow, what a what a great announcement for athletics, but to me this spanned so far beyond athletics and lead to more about what the on-campus life and experience for our students, faculty, and staff are going to be like going forward. VSU is saying, ‘yes, there’s no doubt there’s going to be campuses. Yes, there’s going to be campus life.’”