Beloit College today announced plans to return its track and field program to national prominence (and home competition), add two NCAA Division III lacrosse teams to its varsity sports offerings, and replace its main stadium turf with an artificial surface. Beloit, which will field both men’s and women’s lacrosse squads, will be the first in the Midwest Conference to host the sport at the varsity level, and just the second program in the 14-school Associated Colleges of the Midwest, joining Colorado College.
The track and field redevelopment, as well as the lacrosse program, are being funded by $3.7 million in gifts provided by a small group of alumni, friends and parents of Beloit students. President Scott Bierman announced the news to Buccaneers athletes and coaches, and the entire campus community, on Monday.
“It has been too long,” President Scott Bierman said in a letter to the Beloit College campus community, noting that the last home track meet was in 1997. In the letter, he also signaled his intention to see the college revive the Beloit Relays—once one of the nation’s premier collegiate track and field events. Begun in 1937, the Relays were last run in 1979.
In a close quarters announcement to players and coaches in the lobby of Beloit’s sports center, Bierman pointed to the trophies and placards surrounding the group, and reminded them of the exploits of more than a century’s worth of world-class student athletes (among them, a sprinter that tied the world record in 1908).
“That’s the tradition, and you are a part of that tradition,” he said. But he also noted the names of the college’s many athletic facilities—from Strong Stadium and Flood Arena, to Hancock Field and the former Smith Gymnasium – were evidence of another, but related legacy.
“This tradition is owed to the generations of Beloiters that have supported the college. This gift follows in that tradition,” he said. (You can see more of President Bierman’s remarks at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Il9w7xbqA8.
The college plans to begin excavating the existing track and field in mid- to late-April, in the hopes of laying in the new surfaces in August. The college expects to dedicate the new track and field on the occasion of the opening game of the 2011 football season, Sept. 17.
While the construction window will mean most teams will be unaffected by the work, the college’s annual Ultimate Frisbee championships are commonly hosted under the lights at Strong each spring. The Dean of Students office is already working with student organizers to find a suitable alternative for May’s championship.