The recipe for a college championship season needs a combination of ingredients: great student-athletes, good coaching, a good game plan and, of course, ample support. The University of San Diego, especially in recent years, has enjoyed a taste of that by winning the West Coast Conference’s Commissioner’s Cup these last three years in a row.
The Cup, given to the top athletics program in the eight-team conference for overall success, had never been won by USD prior to the current streak. In that span, the Toreros have had eight WCC conference championship teams and 13 teams have advanced to NCAA postseason play. Students have earned not only all-conference honors in their respective sports, but also recognition for their work in the classroom through USD’s academic support program.
Ky Snyder, executive director of Athletics, praises the efforts of all student-athletes and coaches on the field, on the court, on the golf course, in the pool and in a rowing shell. But he’s also proud of the support shown by those who have believed in what he and his staff sought in 2004, soon after Snyder assumed his current role.
“Six years ago, we were looking to elevate the program in a number of different places,” said Snyder, referring to operational support, scholarship assistance, staff and academic support. “We knew we had to elevate ourselves financially in order to be competitive so we did that on multiple fronts.”
One of the most successful ideas to result from this effort was to create an executive cabinet of donors who have pledged to give a minimum of $25,000 a year over multiple years. Some of these generous supporters sit courtside in the Jenny Craig Pavilion at basketball games. Some remain anonymous, choosing to support the program from afar. It’s all one and the same though for USD athletics. Support from the cabinet members, combined with donations of any amount from alumni, parents and other sources, is vital.
“Without the external support, we would not be able to compete at the level we are today,” Snyder said.
— Ryan T. Blystone