If you are a top 300 Mid-Atlantic or Appalachian ball player currently debating regional schools to attend, last week's announcement of Virginia Tech's Pylons of Promise program might be the thing that pushes you over the top.
As a Virginia non-ag homesteader, Blacksburg is about as far away from the hustle and bustle as you can get. I say that sorta tongue-in-cheek because I-81 (the north'ish-south'ish line that runs through the Shenandoah Valley) is a traffic zoo. Today, there really is no too-far-away for major college life regardless of the small city fortresses that have been erected around the brick and mortars.
So how do you differentiate yourself from your competition? If you have never taken even so much as a basic marketing course then this one might be tough to answer. First, you have to have a product someone wants or needs. Then you have to make sure they know how that product will meet that want or need. With me so far? Once that is settled, then you figure out how you are going to communicate to the folks that match up with that. It gets tricky in the weeds since EVERY MAJOR COLLEGE PRETTY MUCH IS OFFERING THE SAME THING.
So here come the Hokies with a ready-to-roll program that immediately sets the stage for differentiation: The Pylons of Promise, which dovetails on the new recently enacted NCAA bylaws.
According to the school's press release, the program is based on the "ideals emblazoned on the eight pylons at the Virginia Tech War Memorial Court and the athletics department's core values of integrity, service, honor, and excellence and strong together. The Pylons of Promise is Virginia Tech's response to the changes in the NCAA governance landscape. The document serves as a pact, with Virginia Tech holding its student-athletes to high standards while sharing in the commitment to help its student-athletes reach those standards."
Virginia Tech Athletic Director Whit Babcock was front and center on the announcement eschewing any potential blow back, "You can complain about change or you can embrace it. This is good change. It's a modernization that needed to happen. It's more money, but it's not an astronomical amount. "
"We developed the Pylons of Promise to specifically lay out what we're going to be doing for student-athletes at Virginia Tech," Babcock said. "We have committed to this extensive set of values and set it out transparently in writing, so that we can be held accountable for them by our student-athletes, our recruits and others invested in Virginia Tech, such as our faculty, our Board of Visitors, our alumni and our fans."
Basically, if you are on an athletic scholarship, beginning in the 2015-2016 calendar school year you will receive additional benefits as follows.
- Full Cost of Attendance - Room, Board, Books...and a $2,500/annum stipend to cover the extras. Quick math says that is $6.84 per day. Sounds like they are going after folks who require remedial assistance.
- Four-Year Scholarship - No longer is the scholarship year-to-year. So long as a student athlete abides by the rules a scholarship can no longer be revoked. This puts a premium on the selection process and as such begins to move the balance scale back toward scholarship.
- Loss-of-Value Insurance - The school will "assist" student athletes in purchasing these plans. They do not elaborate further on what "assist" infers. Holla, Lloyds!
- Student Assistant Fund - A little-known NCAA "slush" fund has been around for the better part of 20 years. The NCAA distributed over $73,000,000 in the 2013-2014 school year and is to be used to provide financial assistance to students attending major award banquets, travel to funerals, medical hardships, etc. Virginia Tech merely includes this benefit as part of its program.
What does this portend for Texas? Men's AD Steve Patterson and Women's AD Plonsky sat down with Kevin Dunn to discuss the recent NCAA modernization rule changes.
I'm hoping Texas can begin to differentiate itself BY WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS on the court and playing fields.
So BONizens, portend away.