Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
By Emily Tipping
"In the U.S.News & World Report, Miami was ranked 60th in terms of quality of education, and less than half of those top-ranked schools are public institutions," said Brad Bates, athletic director for Miami University. "We're one of the top 24 public universities, and only 16 of those compete in our division of the NCAA, so our students are competing against some of the brightest minds in the world at the same time as our athletes compete against some of the greatest amateur athletes in the country."
As the university approaches its bicentennial in 2009, it has undertaken a record level of construction, spending more than $300 million on academic and athletic facilities, including the Goggin Ice Center and upgrades to the school's "athletic classrooms." Renovations at the school's Yager Stadium have included new stands, a scoreboard, permanent lighting and an artificial turf playing surface.
"I came in while the university was engaged—and still is engaged—in a university-wide campaign, in which athletics is involved," Bates said. "I'm fortunate because our trustees and leadership have endorsed having athletic classrooms that are as extraordinary as our campus resources."
Since he arrived at the university in late 2003, Bates has played a large part not only in upgrading facilities, but also upgrading Miami's athletics to greater success. Miami University's RedHawks sports teams compete in the NCAA Division I Mid-American Conference, as well as the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the U.S. Figure Skating Association, "Miami University has a national reputation," Bates said. "It's referred to as the 'Cradle of Coaches.' It got that moniker in the '70s because a series of coaches came from Miami University. …There's a whole series of Miami University alumni who were great successes. Our history is strong and deep, and has turned out these great leaders in athletics."
One of Bates' great successes has been the department's record in graduating its student athletes. Miami has consistently ranked among the best Division I-A programs over the first two years of the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) program.
"The top goal is to maximize the development of our students, and really all participants—coaches, faculty, staff. Hopefully all of them are perpetual students too," Bates said. "There's really only one way to justify athletics in higher education, and that's to make sure it's educational."