SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — University of Rhode Island Athletic Director Thorn Bjorn and other school leaders are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to funding renovations to their athletic facilities.
While Gov. Dan McKee included $65.8 million in his state budget for those projects, URI launched a fundraiser in hopes of raising an additional $20 million in “philanthropic contributions” to deal with issues at Meade Stadium, Tootell Aquatic Center, the outdoor track and field facilities, the baseball and softball fields, and the soccer complex.
URI president Marc Parlange is on board and said he believes it’s important to invest in the athletes and facilities that put URI on the map.
“We are stepping up to support our student-athletes in a significant way by investing in championship-caliber people and facilities,” Parlange said.
“Our student-athletes work tirelessly,” he continued. “They represent our University and our state on a national stage. And they are a huge source of pride — not just for URI, but for all of Rhode Island.”
URI’s athletic programs have been producing results in recent years, despite their current resources. The men’s track and field team is coming off its third straight and 15th overall Atlantic 10 title. The football team has been ranked in the top 25 in the preseason FCS poll for three years in a row, and the women’s basketball program finished at the top of its conference last season.
Bjorn is confident in URI’s athletes and the fans who support them, saying that with the proper resources, the sky is the limit.
“We need facilities that stand out among our peers to give every student-athlete the best chance to succeed and to allow our coaches to recruit top talent to URI,” Bjorn said. “I know the passion is there from our alumni, fans, and friends. We now have a unique chance to work together to make big things happen.”
Bjorn noted that not only will the funding support the university’s varsity programs, but also club and intramural teams, as well as the Special Olympics and high school athletes who compete in their facilities.