|To Our University of Miami Family and Hurricanes Fans Everywhere,
The University of Miami is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. As our football team gets ready to kick off conference play this evening, I want to make clear that the Board of Trustees and I, as president, recognize the essential part of our brand and reputation derived from athletics and we are fully committed to building championship-caliber teams at the U.
Earlier this week, at the State of the University Town Hall, I reiterated that our beloved U sits at the cross section of the two sectors most disrupted by the pandemic: higher education and health care. Intercollegiate athletics, which is a key component of higher education for student-athletes and fans alike, is undergoing similar disruption.
Conversations about college sports tend to focus on the last game—or even the last play—and I can certainly empathize with the emotions of those moments. Yet, we must pay equally close attention to the drivers of disruption and the ways lines are being blurred between amateur and professional sports by factors including NIL legislation, antitrust rulings, promotion of gambling, conference realignments, and a corrosive discourse that falsely portrays college athletics as a means to exploit talented players, instead of what it really is: an avenue to expand opportunities for young people through access to higher education.
We can either be disrupted, or we can play a role in strategically shaping the course of disruption. As with our academic and health care missions, when it comes to athletics, my job as president is to ensure we are doing the latter. To that end, I have decided to increase the involvement from my senior leadership team to chart a way forward. Rudy Fernandez, in his capacity as my chief of staff, and Joe Echevarria, in his capacity as my senior advisor, will augment my own direct engagement with the athletics director by facilitating seamless alignment between the Board of Trustees, my entire administration, and the athletics department.
From my arrival here, I underscored that with respect to athletics our devotion must be first and foremost to our student-athletes, whose considerable talent we have a duty to develop both on and off the field. Of the student-athletes who compete across the NCAA, only 2 percent move on to play their sports professionally. Part of what draws student-athletes to the U is that Miami Hurricanes have, over the years, had a stronger likelihood of success on that path than many of our competitors. We are proud of their achievements and at the same time recognize our duty to prepare student-athletes for success in all spheres of life.
For a generation, the U has been recognized as one of the preeminent programs in college athletics. We have won 21 team national championships, including five in football. We are committed to honoring the legacy of those championship teams and of the student-athletes, coaches, and support personnel who have built that proud ’Canes tradition—a tradition that is woven into the very fabric of South Florida.
At the U, time and again, we have proven that excellence in academics and excellence in athletics are not mutually exclusive. I am grateful to our student-athletes, athletics director, his team, and the entire Hurricanes coaching staff for their dedication, and to our fans for their unceasing passion and loyalty. We are one U in our pursuit of winning—on the field and in life.