The Role of University of Virginia Athletics in the Community

littlepage_120314What is the proper role of intercollegiate athletics with various institutional programs such as teaching and learning? Where does the sports program fit in with other programs? Craig Littlepage, UVa Athletics Director, responded to these questions and more at this month’s meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The program was moderated by SSV board member Charlie Smith.

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Craig Littlepage received his B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1973. He was appointed assistant basketball coach at Villanova University in 1973, assistant basketball coach at Yale University in 1975; assistant basketball coach at UVa in 1976; head basketball coach at University of Pennsylvania in 1982, head basketball coach, Rutgers University in 1985, and assistant basketball coach at UVa in 1988. Mr. Littlepage was appointed assistant UVa assistant athletics director in 1990, associate athletics director for programs in 1991, senior associate director of athletics in 1995, and named as UVa’s athletics director in 2001.

Cavalier student-athletes who exhaust their eligibility at UVa graduate at a rate comparable to the student body as a whole. Annually, UVa student-athletes rank among the top Division I-A public universities in the country in graduation rates.

Littlepage is a member of the Associate Faculty for the University’s Center for Alcohol and Substance Education, and participates in various alcohol and drug prevention/education conferences. He served on the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House and is a Trustee for the Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Mr. Littlepage is married to the former Margaret Murray of Charlottesville. The couple has three children.

Program Summary

One need not look very hard to see the “chaos” in intercollegiate athletics — schools moving among conferences, players moving among teams and an abundance of scandals, said Craig Littlepage, athletic director for the University of Virginia. “You need a scorecard to keep up with this stuff,” he said, addressing a group of about 50 senior residents gathered for a forum hosted by Senior Statesmen of Virginia on Wednesday.

Littlepage said he urges colleagues in the industry to take responsibility for the state of intercollegiate athletics and work to change it. “We as leaders, administrators, senior administrators, officials at the conference level, NCAA level, coaches and so forth, have not done the kind of job we need to do in defining what our value is to our respective institutions,” he said. “Absent that clear definition, we then get defined by either our critics or we get defined by scandals.” Littlepage defined what he described as important opportunities athletics programs bring to their respective institutions.

“There are two things we do at the University of Virginia in the athletics department better than anywhere else at the institution,” he said.  “Number one is we bring people together … Secondly, we develop relationships.” Both circumstances support the university’s primary missions of “teaching, learning and research, which are far more important than the games we play.”

Through about 130 athletic events held each year, UVa draws thousands to the Grounds, he said. “We can develop relationships with those people we bring together — parents of a student athlete with a faculty member, a faculty member with a corporate sponsor. You can look at any number of combinations of the ability we have to bring people together to develop the kind of relationships that bring great value to the university, as well as exposure and recognition of the university.”

This summary reprinted (and reformatted and truncated to fit available space) from the Daily Progress, March 15, 2012, written by Megan Davis.

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