UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Spring / Summer 2000
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President's Message


The University at Buffalo is well known for its academic record as a leading research institution, but our academic success is complemented by a rich tradition of excellence in athletics. In 1999, we further strengthened that tradition by stepping up to compete at the highest rank of intercollegiate athletics, the NCAA Division I-A. This was not UB’s first foray into major college sports—far from it. The UB football team competed at the highest level until 1970, when the program was dropped completely for seven years before joining Division III. Our recent return to the top section makes us the first of New York State’s public universities to field a Division I-A football team. This fall, our football team won its first game at the nationally renowned Mid-American Conference (MAC) and named Jim Hofher as UB’s 23rd football coach.

Our strength in athletics, however, extends far beyond the football field. The university has competed at Division I in all athletics programs since 1991. We have 20 sports for the 2000–2001 season, including baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, cross-country and track and field. Each and every member of these teams is working hard to build our community’s pride in our school. They are all committed to putting UB athletics on the map, and they are succeeding:

• This year, the women’s soccer team won UB’s first-ever regular season Mid-American Conference championship, tying the school record for wins with 14-6-1.

• In its season opener, the women’s basketball team defeated 22nd-ranked North Carolina in front of a record 4,017 fans at Alumni Arena—the first-ever major sports win over an Atlantic Coast Conference school for men’s or women’s basketball. As of press time, the team posted an 8-0 record for the 2000–2001 season, the best starting record in the illustrious history of UB women’s basketball. The team has a record of 188 wins, 94 losses over the past decade.

• The men’s tennis team went unbeaten during the fall season with a perfect 7-0 score.

• The UB wrestling team began the year by winning the highly regarded Bloomsburg Invitational for the first time and earned votes in the InterMat Wrestling Top 25 poll after finishing 11-5 last year.

All these firsts add up to a strong program, one that balances women’s sports and men’s sports and seeks to serve—first and foremost—the needs of our scholar-athletes. Some of our star athletes come from the teams mentioned above, teams that receive less attention than football, but that are just as crucial to student life and student pride:

• This year, the wrestling team recruited the wrestler ranked number one in the nation; two other wrestlers were ranked first in MAC individual ratings.

• The men’s tennis team sent the first two athletes ever to the prestigious Rolex Collegiate Championships.

• Four players from the women’s soccer team earned All-Conference honors and head coach Jean-Arnaud Tassy was named MAC Coach of the Year.

• One of our women’s basketball team members was chosen for the preseason All-MAC Women’s Basketball Team.

This kind of achievement shows how far UB has come in the short time since the Division III era ended in 1991. We may not yet have the high profile of some schools in Division I, but we are creating a community with tried-and-true academic strength, boosted by an excellent all-around athletics program. UB enrolls the best and the brightest students and serious scholar-athletes. As a result, our graduation rate for the latest NCAA cycle (1992–96) was 81.7 percent, nearly 25 percent higher than the national average of 58 percent for Division I athletes. We need to continue this tradition of recruiting student-athletes who excel at scholarship and attracting outstanding undergraduates who appreciate and participate in a wide spectrum of sports.

Rather than chasing recognition, we at UB seek what’s best for the entire university community. This means we must pick honest, hardworking and reliable coaches and team members, people who understand and follow the university’s goals of diversity, growth and education. In Division I, we are competing with the nation’s top schools, and so we will face losses as well as victories in the coming years. What is of paramount importance, however, is that we build a competitive and yet responsible athletics program across the board, one that benefits our scholar-athletes, student fans and alumni, while also keeping scholastic excellence at the forefront of our mission.

William R. Greiner
President, University at Buffalo

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