Newly named Athletics Director Cary McConnell is not considered the rah-rah type, yet he was visibly excited when a group representing the NCAA Enhancing Relationships Program recently visited the University.

“This was such a great opportunity for us to provide the NCAA with a firsthand view of who we are, how we operate, and the good work that we’re doing,” said McConnell.

The NCAA Enhancing Relationships Program provides an opportunity for NCAA staff to interact and enhance relations with member schools and in doing so to add value to the host institutions’ programs.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said McConnell.

Supportive climate promotes excellence

“We have outstanding student-athletes here at Suffolk, and they enjoy an excellent experience because of the dedication of our coaches, faculty, and staff,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Marisa Kelly. “It was wonderful to have an opportunity to highlight this for the NCAA.”

During their one-day visit, the NCAA representatives interacted with Suffolk coaches, staff, and student-athletes and were given a campus tour. They also met with Kelley, Dean of Students Nancy Stoll, and Assistant Dean of Students John Silveria and had lunch with Athletic Director Emeritus James Nelson and Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Commissioner Joe Walsh.

Athletics in an urban environment

“Our visit to Suffolk was truly outstanding,” said NCAA Vice President for Division III Dan Dutcher. “Our team left impressed by the commitment, dedication, and resourcefulness displayed by Suffolk’s athletics and administrative staff, and especially appreciated the character and quality of Suffolk’s student-athletes.”

Suffolk’s urban campus makes its Division III athletics program unique in that is has only one on-campus athletics facility. The Regan Gymnasium is home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s volleyball squad.

Every other Rams team travels away from campus for practice and games. Even the home games are away.

“I believe that the NCAA was impressed that one of its members is able to run a first-class, competitive program given the inherent challenges of being located in an urban environment,” said McConnell. “They left here knowing that Suffolk student-athletes are tough and hard-working, and they engage in sports for all the right reasons.”

As accomplished in class as on the field

McConnell noted that these young men and women also excel in the classroom.

“We have 210 student-athletes (competing in 13 varsity sports) and their combined GPA is 3.1,” he said. “We’re as proud of that as winning a GNAC championship.”

McConnell told his NCAA guests that Boston is a main draw for Suffolk student-athletes worldwide, with eight countries represented on the men’s soccer team alone, and that the overall program has its priorities in order.

“Our number-one goal is to provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes in our own unique and special way,” he said. “We try to create a family-like atmosphere – on and off the field.”