February 17th, 2011
Allen Leads Upgrade At Catholic University
CUA athletic director has changed the culture since his arrival
Dr. Mike Allen has made sure to lead his Cardinals to victory in every which way possible.
Since becoming AD six years ago at Catholic University of America, Allen has created new initiatives and revised some others to help his teams succeed.
“Through the support of hundreds of alumni and friends of the university, and especially the excellent fundraising efforts of former athletic director, Bob Talbot, we have been able to upgrade every athletic facility on campus in one form or another and in doing so, became a much more attractive destination for talented prospective student-athletes,” said Allen.
And with upgraded facilities, Allen helped student-athletes make new opportunities come to life with victories during game time.
“In the last few years, we have had a number of programs accomplish program-best seasons. Most notably, our women's lacrosse, men's soccer, and women's soccer teams earned their first ever trips to the NCAA tournament, our baseball team won back to back conference championships, and our men's lacrosse, softball, and field hockey teams have set program records for wins in a season," said he. "We also continue to field talented teams in sports where we have a long history of success.”
During his tenure, Allen has worked to uphold the great tradition of academics in Division III athletics.
“The student-athletes at CUA routinely have graduation and retention rates that exceed comparable rates for the general student body and our student-athletes are impressive in their commitment to service and giving back to the community,” said Allen.
Allen joined Catholic University after graduating from Trinity College (Bachelor’s degree in Sociology) and University of Connecticut (Ph.D. in sociology of sport and Master’s degree in sports management). His previous experience includes football program director for the Counseling Program of Intercollegiate Athletes at the University of Connecticut and associate athletic director for student services at Florida Atlantic University.
His career path and his experiences as a former basketball player have helped him relate to student athletes.
“My first job out of college was in the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes at the University of Connecticut. In retrospect, this was a great experience to have at the start of my career because it allowed me to become intimately involved with the student-athlete experience, both from the perspective of the students and the coaches," said Allen. "This early experience has been very instrumental in shaping my philosophy and decisions as an athletic director today."
Along with building a positive, strong rapport with student athletes, Allen understands that funding for the athletic department is crucial to make certain that games, academics, and day-to-day equipment expenses are covered.
That is why he has enlisted support through various relationships and events.
“One of the things that has helped our annual fund raising efforts is a collaborative effort with our Development Office to promote giving to the athletic department through our "Cardinal Club" program,” said Allen. “We have expanded our database of athletic alumni in recent years which has allowed us to get our promotional materials in front of more people and grow our donor base. We've also grown our annual golf tournament and held a number of major alumni events to identify new supporters and cultivate relationships with our existing donors.”
Out of all of the resources available at Catholic University, Allen credits his staff the most for their excellence in performance.
”I think much of the success we have had centers around excellent coaches,” said Allen. “Our coaches often have secondary duties within the department and work with predominately part-time assistant coaches, yet the expectations to produce successful teams are still there.”
Allen says he, along with his coaches, look for certain types of student athletes to join the Cardinals.
“We want young men and women in our program who are not only talented athletes, but also strong students who will embrace the mission and values of our university,” said Allen.
In the next year, Allen wants to continue facility renovations for the DuFour Center on campus including an expansion and renovation to locker rooms. While Allen continues to have new goals for the road ahead, he never forgets the reason behind his work and the lives of the students he works to impact daily.
“The great part about Division III is that it allows you to engage in highly competitive athletic competition, but everything is in the right perspective,” said Allen. “Student-athletes can compete and train with great passion, but also have the opportunity to excel academically and embrace the overall college experience.”