Another Championship Season

President Tripathi cheers on the UB Bulls as they take on Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Boise, ID on March 15, 2018.

“Historic.” “Unprecedented.” “Record-breaking.”

When I read articles about the success of our UB sports teams, I notice adjectives such as these used with increasing frequency. If you have been following the upward trajectory of our athletics program over the years, I suspect you do, too.

To be sure, our student-athletes have given us much to cheer about. From best-ever seasons to startling upsets, their performance has been nothing short of inspiring—a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the national media. And while I am thoroughly impressed with the way that that they represent UB on the national stage, I’m equally proud of their championship comportment off the field.

Look beyond the headlines and highlight reels, and you’ll find our student-athletes delivering donated backpacks to Buffalo Public School students, hosting free sports clinics, volunteering at a walk to support Alzheimer’s research, visiting patients at a children’s hospital—the list goes on.

Here’s a telling statistic that you’ll never read in a box score: During the 2017-2018 academic year, our UB Bulls athletics teams carried out some 1,000 hours of community service.

Clearly, giving back figures prominently in our student-athletes’ playbook. They are using their platform and profile to positively impact the lives of others. In my book, that clearly fits the definition of a role model.

One of my colleagues recently told me that his 8-year-old daughter, who had no prior interest in basketball, has taken up the sport in earnest, joining a youth league and running Dad ragged in the driveway with one-on-one play.

The source of this third-grader’s hoop dreams? Our UB women’s basketball team, who visited her school during an assembly.

Mind you, when our student-athletes speak to schoolkids, they’re not only expounding on the mechanics of a perfect layup or the importance of good sportsmanship. They’re also encouraging the next generation of college athletes to make the grade.

Balancing the rigors of academic studies with the demands of practice, conditioning and competition is no small feat. When we recruit student-athletes to UB, the invitation comes with both the expectation that they will prioritize academic excellence alongside athletic excellence, and the assurance that we will offer them the resources they need to succeed in the classroom.

And succeed they do—evidenced by our Athletics Department’s 13-semester streak of a combined GPA over 3.0, and by dozens of our student-athletes receiving individual recognition—from both the SUNY System and the Mid-American Conference—for their impressive academic performance. Last spring, then-UB soccer midfielder Julia Benati was one of only 126 student-athletes nationwide to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for academic and athletic excellence.

It is truly gratifying to see our student-athletes so committed to their studies, their sport and service.

Because of this dedication, it’s UB for the win, every time.