Wilkes University has rebranded its athletic department in the last two years, between adding new sports, such as men’s and women’s ice hockey, and a near complete overhaul on most of the department’s coaching staff. The latest upgrades made to the department have been in the Marts Center and most notably at the Ralston Athletic Complex, where new multi-sport turf fields are currently being put in.
Rumors have been swirling around the university that the recent upgrades are to hopefully draw more interest for incoming students. Here at The Beacon, we believe that investing money in the athletics programs at Wilkes and improving facilities is a good strategy to help draw more interest in the University.
Wilkes has had multiple coaches depart for numerous reasons over the last three years, whether it was for new jobs or stepping away for personal reasons. With the vacancies, Wilkes has put effort in to hiring the best candidates for its student athletes and the university.
The Marts Center has been upgrading the weight room over the last couple of years, and this summer had new blue turf installed in the “green room,” resulting in it being renamed the “blue room.” Gowilkesu.com also recently posted that the weight room has new/upgraded technology.
As reported by The Beacon in the summer issue, the university is installing a new multi-sport turf field in the Ralston Athletic Complex. The field will primarily serve as a baseball field in the spring, but it can also host games for men’s and women’s soccer in the fall as well as field hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse in the spring.
“I think it is a really good idea if the University wants to keep enrollment up during down years,” Jose Tabora, senior quarterback of the Wilkes football team said. “The improved facilities are very attractive for athletes and for the university’s non-athletes it can create a fun atmosphere at games and around campus.”
The benefits of investing the money into athletics are clear for many student athletes, but for the students who do not participate in sports, Wilkes could potentially have an issue.
“I understand why Wilkes may want to improve their athletic facilities but it is hard to think about my tuition dollars contributing to programs that I have no part of,” an anonymous student at Wilkes said.
While it is a fair question to raise, it is important to note that projects like this are not completely funded by the university, but also from alumni donations.
It is also important to know that there are a lot of athletes that make up the Wilkes University campus. Many students are drawn to Wilkes from other states because of the athletic and academic opportunity.
“I heard about Wilkes when the coaches came out and recruited me,” freshman football player Ryan Martel said. “I came for a visit and saw what Wilkes could offer me academically and I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
It is important to note that while Wilkes is a Division III school, therefore meaning most athletes are likely not going to move forward with professional athletic careers, athletics still help draw interest to Wilkes.
The football team brought in over 45 freshman this year and that is just a fraction of the freshmen the athletic department brought in.
The money Wilkes is investing in their athletic department is similar to the trickle-down effect. The money invested in the fields, facilities and coaches will draw more interest for incoming students for years to come.