VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, served as a guest panelist at the 13th Annual IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York City. Father Donohue was one of two panelists on the Forum’s opening panel, entitled: “From the Office of the President.” He, along with Nathan Hatch, PhD, President of Wake Forest University, joined moderator Michael Smith of the Sports Business Journal to discuss presidential oversight of athletics and a variety of issues and topics impacting intercollegiate sports.
The Annual IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum is a marquee event in college athletics attended by leaders in the sports business world, athletic directors, and national media, as well as university presidents and chancellors.
The national dialogue surrounding NCAA governance and reform, along with some of the current legal cases that could impact the future of college athletics, were popular discussion points throughout the forum’s opening panel.
With the landscape of college athletics continuing to change, Father Donohue stressed the importance of continuing to support the whole student-athlete.
“With any changes that come about, it needs to look at the well-being of the student-athlete,” Father Donohue noted. “We have a precious commodity that is given to us in these individuals, these young men and women. They are developing and they are maturing. We need to make sure that we provide for them the best resources available to help them mature and grow.”
Added Father Donohue: “That is really our ultimate mission with any student. Our goals as institutions have to be to educate and to produce men and women who are productive, and who will give back to society.”
With the seventh-ranked Villanova men’s basketball team having defeated Illinois at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden one night earlier – and the BIG EAST Conference garnering early season national attention for its impressive start to the 2014-15 season – Father Donohue was asked about the new BIG EAST and the path that Villanova and its fellow conference members took towards its creation.
“As we saw the landscape before us, we were looking at how we could control our own destiny,” Father Donohue said. “And as we looked at how we move forward, we felt that we needed to accentuate what we do well. And we play basketball very well. We are an elite basketball conference and we will do everything we can to stay at that level.”
The popularity of college sports is at an all-time high with students, alumni and fans around the country laser-focused on their favorite teams and sports. On college campuses, the athletics experience is an important one. With more than half of the Villanova student body playing sports at the varsity, club, or intramural levels, and hundreds more participating as band members, cheerleaders and fans, athletics play an important role in the lives of students – a point that doesn’t go unnoticed by university leadership.
“There is a lot of energy put around athletics,” Father Donohue said. “Athletics are very important for a campus. It is important for connecting with alums and keeping people engaged. It is a huge part of college life.”
For more information about the 2014 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, click here.