ATLANTA (Oct. 11, 2021) – Canisius College has released the executive summary of its Athletic Operational Review conducted by Collegiate Consulting. Canisius retained Collegiate Consulting in December 2020 to conduct a comprehensive operational review of the institution’s intercollegiate athletic program. The 328-page report was initially delivered to Canisius in May 2021 with the institution taking the subsequent four months to review and provide feedback.
The purpose of the review was to conduct comprehensive stakeholder interviews and benchmarking comparisons within the MAAC and other peer institutions, which lead Collegiate Consulting to providing specific recommendations and best practices as Canisius moves forward in a rapidly changing intercollegiate athletic environment.
The first part of the study was stakeholder interviews, where Collegiate Consulting interviewed 140 stakeholders ranging from student-athletes to donors to senior institutional staff. In addition, a survey on the importance of athletics was distributed to Canisius’ 2,821 students.
The benchmarking comparison included enrollment trends; student-athlete academic success; competitive results; facility analysis; roster management; staffing & salary analysis and net tuition revenue assessment. These comparisons were done across various conferences and divisions.,
The benchmarking assessment indicated that Canisius ranks in the lower half of the MAAC in most metrics. The total athletic budget ranks 9th in the MAAC and is 30% below the conference average of $17.4million. With staffing reductions due to COVID-19 and attrition, athletic staffing ranks in the bottom-third of the conference. External revenue sources (ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, fundraising, etc.) account for 13% of athletic funding.
Over the last ten years, the men’s programs averaged a fifth-place ranking in the MAAC Commissioner’s Cup. This includes a first-place finish in 2018Whereas the women’s programs averaged an eighth-place finish over the same timeframe. Canisius student-athletes perform well in the classroom. In Fall 2020, student-athletes had a cumulative 3.27 GPA,83% retention rate and 70% six-year graduation rate.
Increasing Net Tuition Revenue and student enrollment is a critical factor for Canisius. Collegiate Consulting recommended the addition of four club sports programs and consideration for NCAA emerging programs (rugby, triathlon). In addition, Collegiate Consulting recommended increasing participation by 42 student-athletes. The increased revenue could potentially support the funding for a much-needed turf field and field house.
Quantitative feedback indicated a divide between student-athletes and non-student-athletes – one that is not only physical in splitting up the campus, but also socially in reference to a lack of integration of the groups. Students responded on a lack of consistent messaging from the administration and athletics.
Recommendations included detailed guidelines for Canisius to emphasize clear communication, improve transparency within the athletic department and create a cohesive identity on social media. Developing department-wide protocols for fundraising, stewardship appreciation and renewal rates were a key part of Collegiate Consulting’s recommendations. Increased incentives for student game attendance were also outlined, in addition to enhanced event experiences for all fans. Collegiate Consulting developed a goal to increase external revenue to 20% with focus on advancement and ticket sales.