CSU–Pueblo earns NCAA Division II grant to enhance diversity

The Athletics Department at Colorado State University – Pueblo has earned a $98,112 Strategic Alliance Matching Grant from the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), which will be used over the course of the next three years to fund the Associate Athletic Director position.

CSU-Pueblo was one of seven Division II schools selected from among 23 proposals. Other grant recipients were Assumption College – Associate Director of Athletics; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – Associate Athletics Director; Central Athletic Collegiate Conference – Associate Commissioner; Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference – Assistant Commissioner for Internal Relations; Queens College – Assistant Athletics Director – Student Welfare and Strategic Initiatives; Sonoma State College – Assistant Athletics Director for Compliance.

The NCAA’s Strategic Alliance Matching Grants provide funding for Division II institutions and conference offices to enhance diversity and inclusion through the hiring of full-time professional administrative positions in athletics administration. Athletics Director Joe Folda was pleased that the sixth time was the charm for the University’s most recent grant application, which had been unsuccessful in previous years. The NCAA awards between 5-7 schools each year nationwide in Division II athletics.

CSU-Pueblo President Joseph Garcia commended the athletics department for continuing to seek external funding that would complement the recent increases in state facilities funding (for Massari Arena renovation) and donor interest relative to possible athletic program expansion.

“This is precisely the type of external outreach that will be necessary over the next few years for us to reach the aggressive goals we have set both for the University and for our athletics program,” said Garcia. “If we expect others to help us financially, we need to be certain that we’re doing all we can to help ourselves.”

Former University All-American softball player Niki (Toussaint) Whitaker was hired in August, 2006, as the senior women’s administration and assistant athletic director. This grant will allow her position to be elevated to an associate director level position. Whitaker is responsible for developing annual marketing, advertising and community outreach plans as well as providing oversight for the Title IX compliance and NCAA Division II reports.

CSU-Pueblo will receive the grant funding for three years, with diminishing contributions by the NCAA. The NCAA will fund 75 percent of the position during the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent during the third year. Second and third year funding of the grant is contingent upon the submittal of a year-end status report from the institution and conference office supervisor and grant recipient, verifying the position and how the funds were used and the completion of an on-campus site visit. Participating institutions or conference offices are required to maintain the position for a minimum of two years after grant funds are exhausted, preferably incorporating the position into their ongoing operations. All applying institutions and conference offices must show a commitment to continuing the position at the time of the submitted application.

Folda said that Division II is a dynamic and engaging group of colleges, institutions and conferences of varying sizes and educational missions and its members are committed to the overall experience and success of their students, coaches and administrators who participate in their membership. Consistent with the NCAA's ideals of encouraging diversity and inclusion, Division II has renewed its commitment to remedy an ongoing problem with professional
development opportunities for minority and women administrators through the NCAA Strategic Alliance Matching Grant Enhancement Program. Through this program, Division II has heightened its commitment of encouraging institutions and conference offices to increase the opportunities that enhance diversity and inclusion within their athletics administrative staffs.

Folda said that in the past, Division II's principal concern has been a lack of progress, or even a regression, for minority hiring in administrative positions, as demonstrated in the most recent NCAA report on athletics personnel demographics.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.