Over the last few days, anticipation was building about a huge announcement in Blacksburg concerning Virginia Tech sports. It was scheduled for 4/20 and it was supposed to be big.
Virginia Tech president Tim Sands and athletic director Whit Babcock and announced the “Reach for Excellence” initiative. This initiative is an eight-year, $400 million fundraising campaign that will place the Hokies among the top third of the ACC in athletic budget.
That’s big news. Babcock said he hoped to increase Virginia Tech’s athletic budget from $100 million to $125 million annually. It was around $63 million seven years ago.
“We can either invest in a program that competes for championships across the board, or we can be average,” Babcock said, per Hokie Sports. “Our collective answer is clear: Our investment in athletics should match our aspirations.”
Sands was strong in his belief of what the football program means to the university, noting what it brought into the local economy on game days.
The “Reach for Excellence” initiative is broken up into five pillars:
- A football enhancement fund to build a program that consistently competes at the top of the ACC, by allotting $30 million over time for recruiting, assistant coaches’ salaries, quality-control coaches, player development, and capital needs.
- Renovations to improve Cassell Coliseum, with at least $50 million to be raised privately.
- The Drive for 25 initiative to increase Hokie Club membership to 25,000 and raise $20 million annually for student-athlete scholarships.
- Striving for comprehensive excellence for all sports by providing operating expenses, facility improvements, nutritional and strength and conditioning programs, and more.
- Increasing the number of student-athlete scholarship endowments to expand capacity to support students and broaden reach in recruiting.
Check out the plans for Cassell Coliseum.
Even with the upgrades, Babcock noted how important it was to keep Cassell as unique as possible.
Today was especially a big day for the football program, so much that head coach Justin Fuente spoke. Fuente spoke publicly about the need for full-time personnel focused on recruiting as well as retention. The football program will get $30 million over the next five years alone.
Fuente discussed the importance of giving.
Achieving and sustaining success as a football team begins with attracting the right type of student-athletes, coaches, and support staff to Virginia Tech. Then it’s our job to provide all the resources necessary to develop these young men athletically, academically and spiritually to reach their full potential. When those individuals and your entire team trust that you have their best interests at heart, you can push them to achieve goals that can exceed even their own expectations.
Babcock noted how the Hokies were going from a “challenger to a champion brand.”
Overall, it was a very strong day for Virginia Tech. Does it mean success? Of course not. Is it past time for this to happen? Of course. And both Sands and Babcock acknowledge it was in the works for a while.
Fans and alumni have long wanted a stronger commitment to the football program. On Tuesday, they at least received the promise of it.
Now, it’s up to you.