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 only the second program in the 14-school Associated Colleges of the Midwest, joining Colorado College.
The track and field redevelopment and 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.
In his letter to the campus community, President Scott Bierman noted that Beloit’s last home track meet was in 1997 and 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 who 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 related legacy.
“This tradition is owed to the generations of Beloiters who have supported the college. This gift follows in that tradition,” he said.
Construction to begin within weeks
The college plans to begin excavating the existing track and field in mid- to late-April, in the hopes of laying 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 leave most teams unaffected by the work, the college’s annual Ultimate Frisbee championships are commonly hosted under the lights at Strong Stadium each spring. The Dean of Students office is already working with student organizers to find a suitable alternative site for May’s championship.