McPherson College releases 2016-2017 sports report

By Andrew Ehling, McPherson College Athletic Director
August 02, 2017

McPherson College athletics experienced a solid year in all aspects of the collegiate experience in 2016- 2017. 

From the classroom to facilities to development, our student-athletes experienced success in many areas.

In the classroom, our student-athletes proved to be successful by accumulating a 3.119 GPA — all while progressively improving on the field, court or track. Many of our existing facilities are receiving a facelift, while baseball and softball are breaking new ground – literally and figuratively – with the construction of the new Bulldog Park complex. 

In addition, fund-raising reached an all-time high in terms of both donors and gifts. And as we look to the future, I am excited that McPherson College’s next comprehensive fund-raising campaign will include a significant capital element for athletics—specifically our Sport Center—as the department will look at plans to expand locker room facilities, training and weight room space. 

Finally, I am proud that this year McPherson was the top-ranked US News & World Report college in the KCAC.

Overall, there is a lot to celebrate in McPherson College athletics as we embark on the 2017-2018 academic year. Below is the 2016-2017 year in review.

• Facilities •

McPherson Stadium has received a makeover complete with updated grandstand seating, ADA-compliant ramps, new fencing and sidewalks and a fresh coat of paint. A new ticket booth is currently under construction in the southwest corner of the facility. Additional concrete will also be poured to help facilitate spectator movement in that section of the grounds. To the east of the stadium, the hammer/discus throwing cage received new netting and artificial turf was installed around the circle.

In the Sport Center, new and updated equipment has been installed in the weight room with new platforms expected to arrive this fall and both the football and women’s basketball locker rooms are undergoing renovations. Custom wood lockers are currently being installed and plan to be completed by mid-August. The football locker room will be named the Blake Reed Memorial Locker Room with a dedication planned before the Sept. 30 home football game against Bethel. Women’s basketball will honor the late Mary Holloway. A date for the Mary Holloway Memorial Locker Room dedication has not yet been determined.

Ground was broken on the Bulldog Park baseball/softball complex on July 18. The opening phase of the project includes the construction of the two diamonds, complete with artificial turf infields, dugouts, bullpen areas, batting cages, scoreboards and a parking lot equipped with handicap stalls. Both fields are slated to be game-ready in time for each team’s home opener in February.

We are also entering into a new set of negotiations with USD 418 and will be taking MC facility use needs seriously as we look to create a new arrangement.

• Financial and Operations •

In 2016-2017, Champions Club recorded more donors (536) and accumulated more gifts ($138,794) than ever before. These gifts enhance our student-athletes’ experience by helping fund new or upgraded facilities, providing meals during winter or spring breaks, funding special trips, helping to defray the cost of postseason participation, and providing championship rings. In 2017-2018, the Champions Club is investing in our multimedia equipment to provide enhanced coverage with high-definition video streaming. Another positive from the fundraising end is our budget relieving exceeded the $50,000 goal by accumulating $51,820.

The athletic department met its operational budget. Postseason travel was covered – as planned – by the college’s contingency budget line. However, for the first time, the 2017-18 athletic budget includes a line specifically for postseason participation. In addition, all program operating budget lines were increased in 2017-18 to meet all needs for the year versus programs needing to fund-raise and use restricted-account resources for annual expenses. The athletic department and advancement will be responsible for fund-raising to support this change and programs will receive a percentage of gifts.

It became clear early in the year that our game day operations were not meeting expectations. Working together, we were able to better understand and document game day expectations. With the hiring of Chandler Short as Athletics Assistant, as well as additional support from Tim Bruton, we should have a better handle game day activities – not only making for a better experience for the fans and players but, most importantly, our coaches. We will be tracking and addressing game day issues next year and it will be a major component of the weekly athletic indicator report that is shared with the President.

Compliance is becoming a critical task in every athletic department and it has been a challenge for McPherson College. The college was placed on NAIA probation in spring of 2016. Since that time, we have invested in new processes for compliance and, in that time, there have been no violations. We were notified in mid-July that the NAIA would be lifting our probation.

Finally, we have experienced good continuity in the area of head coach retention. Our head coaching team has remained consistent, with just one head coaching change – Cheer and Dance – over the last year. This consistency is an important part of our success.

• Recruiting/Retention •

Athletic rosters began the 2016-2017 school year with 345 student-athletes reaching 90 percdnt toward total roster goal of 385. Projections for 2017-2018 indicate over 170 new student-athletes, which should meet the total athletic goal of 385. Retention, which is an ongoing concern, is expected to hold steady entering Fall 2017 and matching our Fall 2016 total retention of 72 percent.

With the hiring of a new VP and Dean of Students, the athletic department looks forward to working on ways to partner with student life in better engaging students outside athletic programs.

• Intercollegiate Athletic Committee (IAC) •

IAC was able to finalize and approve on the updated Substance Abuse Policy for student-athletes. The policy clarified penalties for positive tests and education of our student-athletes. The updated policy is progressive with the NAIA’s new postseason substance abuse policy, which includes testing for performance enhancing drugs at national championships. The missed-classed policy was a topic of discussion throughout the year, one expected to persist into 2017-2018. It’s important to note the KCAC has created a committee specifically focused on scheduling and missed class. Finally, a Scholar Athlete of the Year award was created to honor one male and one female scholar-athlete who excelled academically while being a significant contributor on his or her varsity team. IAC members voted for their selections and the student-athletes where honors during the Awards Convocation in April.

• Competition Highlights •

MC’s overall winning percentage for the year was 67 percent. We finished sixth in the KCAC Commissioner’s Cup standings, ranking in the top half of the league and finishing closer to first place (14 points) than seventh place (15 points). The following is a summary of our competitive results for the year.

• 4 KCAC Championships: Men’s Indoor Track & Field, Men’s Outdoor Track & Field, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Tennis.

• 5 All-Americans

• 27 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors

• 97 KCAC Scholar-Athlete honors

• 4 CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees

• 35 All-KCAC performances

• 29 All-KCAC performers

• 9 KCAC Special Award honorees

• Coach of the Year: Robert Spies, Men’s Outdoor Track & Field

• Player of the Year: Joan-Marc Fajula Rodriguez, Men’s Tennis

• Athlete of the Meet (2): Chris Linnin, Men’s Indoor Track & Field and Hunter Sury,

Men’s Outdoor Track & Field

• Freshman of the Year (2): Cami Richardson, Women’s Basketball and Brittany Zipf,

Women’s Tennis

• All-Freshman Team (2): Cami Richardson, Women’s Basketball, and Grant Munsen,

Men’s Basketball

• Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Hector Carrillo Perales, Men’s Tennis

• Academic Highlights •

• 37 graduates amassed a cumulative GPA of 3.46 for the 2016-2017 academic year.

• As a group, McPherson College student-athletes (over 300 in total) posted a 3.119 cumulative GPA.

• 23 student-athletes finished with a 4.0 GPA in 16/17, while 65 were at 3.7 or better and 90 were at 3.5 or better.

• 15 of 16 McPherson programs earned NAIA Scholar Team honors by recording a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.

• All 16 McPherson programs earned KCAC Scholar Team honors by recording a 2.75 cumulative GPA or higher.