As the renovation of Tippin Gymnasium and Natatorium proceeds, Clarion University has launched Golden Eagles Rising, a campaign to support student-athletes, the programs in which they participate and the facilities where they train, practice and compete.
"This campaign is about laying the foundation for our programs to develop into the best the conference has to offer," said Dr. Wendy Snodgrass, director of athletics. "When the quality of our facilities matches the drive of our coaches, and the amounts and types of scholarships that we can provide meet the determination of our student-athletes, Clarion will once again be recognized as a program that develops champions across all of our athletic programs."
Clarion's legacy of excellence in athletics is evidenced by diver Kristin Day ('15), named 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year (the first from a Pennsylvania-based university); 50 NCAA champions since 1990; 41 CoSida Academic All-Americans; and a record 183 student-athletes with a GPA of 3.2 or better in 2017-18. Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle got his start as a wrestler at Clarion, as did Naismith Hall of Famer and three-time National Coach of the Year John Calipari, coach of University of Kentucky Wildcats, who led the team to a 2012 NCAA championship, as well as Final Four appearances in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
The $42 million Tippin renovation, an investment in Clarion University by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is underway and is expected to be complete in September 2019. The renovation and expansion of the 50-year-old Tippin will include a new university arena, a new natatorium with a swimming pool conforming to AAU standards and a diving pool for competition swimming and diving; a multi-purpose auxiliary gym; a state-of-the-art wrestling room; a two-story, glass-enclosed strength and conditioning facility and athletic training center.
Coupling that investment with this fundraising campaign poises Clarion to achieve competitive excellence within the PSAC and nationally. Clarion athletics has a strong tradition and, with support, a bright future.
"The Tippin renovation project is leading the efforts to upgrade our athletic facilities for our student-athletes and fans alike," said Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Clarion University president. "We must leverage this investment to enhance all of our athletic performance, practice and training spaces, not only for the student-athletes, but also for the entire community."
Campaign goals are: $3 million for upgrades to our facilities; $2.5 million in endowed scholarships; and $100,000 in annual operating support. Numerous giving options are available, including naming opportunities for the Tippin and Memorial Stadium complexes and for scholarships. Fans and alumni can also own a piece of Clarion athletic history through the sale of various sized sections of the original Tippin gymnasium floor.
Memorial Stadium Complex upgrades include:
- Football/soccer field – Enhancing the football field will allow us to pay homage to our storied past, while allowing us to recruit and retain even more high quality student-athletes (and keep them healthy) during their time as Golden Eagles.
- Track – To best impact the recruiting of students and enable Memorial Field to host NCAA and other events, the current track must be expanded and resurfaced to meet NCAA requirements.
- Press box – As livestreaming of games becomes a regular part of our offerings, funding is needed to enhance the spaces within the press box and to add the necessary technology for PSAC and NCAA compliance.
- Baseball/softball turf projects – Turfing our baseball and softball fields will provide both sports the opportunity to compete at home more frequently. Poor drainage of the fields means even small amounts of rain require us to play home games away. Turf will also provide a safer, weather-resistant practice space.
To be competitive on the fields, courts and tracks, and to reach the current average PSAC equivalency (the full cost of attendance for one year), an annual addition of $550,000 to Clarion's array of scholarships is needed. Clarion continues to trail many PSAC schools in scholarship support for our student-athletes. This scholarship support is essential to our coaches' ability to recruit and retain students who are successful in the classroom and on their teams.
An additional $100,000 in annual and operating support ensures that every one of our coaches and athletes will have the tools necessary to accomplish his or her goals at Clarion University. The funds enable the athletic department to recruit and train student-athletes, make needed equipment upgrades, support travel expenses and compete on a level playing field with peer institutions.
To learn more about the campaign and how you can join the effort, visit www.clarion.edu/supportgoldeneagles.