Blake James talks about state of the program

Read on to see what UM athletic director Blake James was saying on Friday.

“We talk about excellence in academics, in athletics and in life, and it’s something we see playing out all throughout the year, and I’m excited to have another year starting. Before we start the year, for me, it’s important to touch on some of the accomplishments of the past year. When you look from an academic perspective, graduating our student-athletes is our number one goal. To be able to play as a student- athlete at the University of Miami is a great experience, but to be a student-athlete at the University of Miami and graduate exponentially increases the number of opportunities for them and their lives after school, and it’s something we focus on regularly.

“They’re doing a great job as student-athletes. As a program, we have a 3.0 GPA, we have a 92-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), and we have an average APR score of 987, with a number of our teams scoring a perfect 1.000. From an academic perspective, I’m very happy with where our program is at and where we continue to go. We have great young and women who take the academic challenge very seriously, and coaches who are very supportive of that effort.

“Athletically, there are scoreboards obviously – we recognize that and we want to win on all of them. We had a lot of great things to celebrate. Obviously national championships are important, and coach Randy Ableman has done an incredible job with our diving program. Sam Dorman being a national champion is something we celebrated as a program – I’m very proud of Sam.

“We had 24 All-Americans and nine of our teams made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, highlighted by baseball’s return to the College World Series and the return to the NCAA postseason for the 43rd consecutive year.”

“The bar is constantly being raised in college athletics, and to do that, we have to continue to invest in who we are. For those of you that have been out to the football practice field, you saw we installed lights on Greentree. That’s something I think is very important – it’s hard to believe a program with five national championships never had a practice field with lights. That was a real win for us.

“As you all know, we added the training table last year – that was a big plus for us, and we want to continue to provide our student-athletes with the opportunity to be the very best. As we speak, construction is going on at the other end of the Hecht Athletic Center on a refueling station. That will give our student-athletes the opportunity to ‘grab and go.’ Whether they’re running to class, running to study hall, or just on the go to wherever they need to be, it’s important that we have the refueling opportunities for them to be the very best they can be. That’s something I’m excited to continue to add.

“I’m confident that our coaches will continue to give me ideas on things we need to do. It’s a reality that to understand in this business, that the bar is constantly raised. We need to constantly invest in our student-athletes. I’m committed to doing that, and as importantly, I think we have the partners we need to continue to do that – whether it’s our fanbase and alumni, who do such a good job supporting the Hurricane Club. We now have over 8,000 members in the Hurricane Club, and we continue to see that number go up. To give you some perspective, that number was 4,500 when I started here in 2010. We’ve seen great growth in the Hurricane Club. We have a great partner in campus. I’m very excited about the great support that we get from campus, and what we’re able to do through that support. At the same time, we have a great partner in the city of Coral Gables. The lights don’t happen behind us with the support of everyone coming together – whether it’s the donors funding those lights, the campus supporting them, or the city approving them. I feel like we’re in a good spot as an athletic program, in that all three groups are really supportive of raising the bar, as everyone understands at the end of the day, we want to win championships in all areas. To do that, we have to continue to invest.”

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