January 27, 2020
To the University Community,
It was with great disappointment that we read the recently published opinion article in the University’s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. We, The Cyrus Society, are writing in support of the UVa athletic community. The insinuation that maintaining successful athletic programs comes at the cost of negatively impacting the academic environment is disheartening and untrue. The athletic community at the University of Virginia contributes greatly to the overall experience one enjoys here, just as many other facets contribute to making UVa a globally recognized brand and leader in higher education.
The Cyrus Society exists to serve under-recognized members of the athletic community at the University of Virginia. It is our duty and responsibility to covertly listen and watch matters within the athletic department and the University, generally. Our five core pillars consist of selflessness, hard work, integrity, leadership and a commitment to uncompromised excellence. There are many individuals in the athletic community that embody these traits and more, but today our words address the athletic community as a whole and the benefits that it brings to our beloved University.
While the bridge between athletics and academics is one that lays across an ever changing sea, this University and its student-athletes have made a commitment to first being champions in the classroom and then on the field of play to better prepare themselves for life after sport. Under the recent direction of Carla Williams, the athletic department has made it a priority to enhance the life of the student-athlete, preparing them for a life beyond athletics. Described as the heartbeat of the Master Plan, the Center for Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics will showcase “industry-leading programming in the areas of career development, leadership development, personal development, community engagement and academic achievement.” Additionally, the athletic department launched The Leadership Academy in the fall of 2019, aiming to elevate student-athlete leadership skills through a speaker series that features leaders across various industries. UVa’s recently launched programs are supported by the NCAA’s new revenue distribution plan, starting 2019-2020, which states “a portion of Division I revenue will be distributed to member schools based on the academic achievement of student-athletes.” The desire, and necessity, to perform at a high academic level has never been higher. Virginia student-athletes have answered the bell, by posting the highest-ever department GPA of 3.15 in Fall 2019, and setting department records in both 2018 and 2019 for the number of student-athletes achieving Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Honor Roll.
After graduation and exhausting collegiate eligibility, student-athletes are well-equipped for a career outside of sports. Through sport, student-athletes learn valuable skills such as time management, teamwork, leadership, and discipline among other adjectives. The University of Virginia is furthering those skills through their promotion of the student in “student-athlete”, evidenced by their commitment to the personal and professional growth opportunities they have and will provide. In addition, Fortune found that the majority of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies competed in sports at the university level. This is one of numerous examples that could be provided, but we believe it is indicative of the success that student-athletes have in their careers due to the skills developed and experiences in their sport. It is our strongest belief that athletics supports the University’s mission to educate, rather than detract.
Without reservation, we can assert that student-athletes at the University of Virginia have learned and will continue to learn and develop through a variety of ways within the classroom, on the field, and in the community.
We would also like to acknowledge and thank the coaches, administrators, trainers, support staff and other athletic personnel who work tirelessly to provide the greatest experience to University of Virginia student-athletes, allowing student-athletes to succeed on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and nationwide.
The Cyrus Society
Edit 1/28/2020 11:03 pm: The article’s title has been changed to better reflect the article’s contents.