Perkins' National Recognition Tops
Winning Year for Athletics Program
Director of Athletics Lew Perkins has been named Athletic Director of the Year by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal.
The recent announcement continues the division's sprint through the winter and spring sports seasons, that included championships in track and field and a record-setting baseball season, as well as big years in basketball, soccer and field hockey, sports that have established traditions of victory.
Perkins was selected from among 25 athletic directors nationally who earlier had been named regional winners by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The top award recognized Perkins' overall leadership skills during the past 10 years, and the numerous successes realized within the division during the 1999-2000 academic year.
UConn athletic teams this year set a single-season record for highest overall winning percentage (70.8 percent). Among the 23 varsity sports, UConn won Big East regular season titles in women's basketball, field hockey, and men's and women's soccer, the men's hockey team won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament Championship, the men's track and field squad won the New England Indoor and Outdoor Championships and the women's track and field team won the New England Indoor Championship. Additionally, the baseball team set a single season record with 32 victories and finished the year as the top-ranked Division I team in New England.
Toppping it off, Perkins won a personal victory in successfully shepherding the upgrade of the football team from Division I-AA to NCAA Division I-A status, helping convince the state legislature to authorize construction of a new 40,000-seat stadium in East Hartford - the final hurdle necessary in completing the upgrade.
"It would be hard to overstate Lew Perkins' contribution to UConn's athletic program and, in a very important sense, to the University as a whole," said President Philip E. Austin. "Under his guidance, our success on the playing field has been matched by a strong commitment to academic achievement and strict compliance with ethical standards. The pride and excitement generated by UConn's athletic program has been a serious factor in the University's overall progress, and I am pleased that Lew's leadership is getting the national attention it merits."
Perkins' commitment to academic excellence can be measured by the athletes' grades during the spring 2000 semester, when nearly 40 percent of UConn's about 600 varsity athletes attained grade point averages of 3.0 or better. Additionally, the academic retention rate for UConn athletes surpassed 99 percent.
And, on the philanthropic side, contributions to the Division of Athletics during Perkins' tenure have increased from $2 million to more than $10 million annually. During that same period, the share of the athletics budget borne by the the division has increased from 41 percent in 1990 to 75 percent, and the cost of scholarships assumed by the division has increased from 10 percent in 1990 to 91 percent last year.
Besides Perkins, women's basketball star Shea Ralph was honored with the Honda-Broderick Award, awarded to the best woman collegiate basketball player of the year. And Carey Dorn, a standout women's soccer player, was selected as a recipient of the 1999-2000 John McClendon Memorial Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Award, which brings with it a $10,000 scholarship. Dorn also received a $6,000 NCAA Women's Enhancement postgraduate scholarship.
And Geno Auriemma, who led the women's basketball team to the NCAA National Championship and was a consensus choice as women's basketball coach of the year, was selected to be an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, which will play in the 2000 summer games in Sydney in September.