2020-2025 Strategic Plan

I. Enrollment, Retention and Student Success

Commitment 1 

We will make our University a destination of first choice for an increasing number of students from around the state, from across the region, and beyond.

Objective 1. 

We will collaborate with existing assets on the current University marketing and promotions team to aide in raising the profile of each sport through creative projects, multiplatform social media campaigns and an increase in targeted visibility in and around the state and region.

Metric 1.1. 

Using the baseline date of March 27, 2023, we will measure the number of followers, on each of our three top athletics social media platforms, Twitter, 86,938, Instagram, 40,096, and Facebook, 24,076,. We will to grow the number of followers on each platform by a minimum of 10% annually.

Objective 2. 

We will provide improved access and availability of tutoring and support services to help improve our Academic Progress Rate and Graduation Success Rate.

Metric 2.1. 

Currently, we have approximately 600 student-athletes and two NCAA trained full-time academic counselors; a ratio of 300:1. The Big South Conference recommends a ratio of 100:1 for proper academic support. We will track the ratio of academic services providers to number of student-athletes annually and work to improve that ratio each year. Specifically, we aim to have a ratio of 200:1 by July 1, 2024 and 150:1 by July 1, 2025.

Metric 2.2. 

Athletics currently has four computer stations devoted to academic tutoring space. We aim to grow this to 16 computer stations by July 1, 2025.

Metric 2.3. 

The current graduation rate for athletics is 88% and the FGR is 64%. Our annual goal is to have a 90% or greater GSR each year moving forward.

Metric 2.4. 

We’ve failed to meet the 985 goal each of the past two years and our most recent APR score was 974. Our cumulative goal is to be at or above 985 every single year moving forward.

Objective 3. 

We will provide student-athletes with improved access in the areas of mental health counseling, career counseling and job placement.

Metric 3.1. 

We currently have no paid professional staff members who focus on the mental and emotional health of our student-athletes. The NCAA Transition Committee has a draft proposal that recommends each Division One University have at least one full-time professional staff member or provide alternative services, such as tele-health or phone hotlines made available to student-athletes at all times. Our goal is to offer all student-athletes with a 24/7/365 service prior to July 1, 2023 and hire a full-time behavioral health expert by July 1, 2025.

Metric 3.2. 

In 2022 we had fewer than ten student-athletes meet with successful Gardner-Webb alumni and representatives to receive career advice and learn about potential internships. We will document the increase in this number to 50 student-athletes before July 1, 2023 and to greater than 100 before July 1, 2024, and to greater than 150 before July 1, 2025.

Metric 3.3. 

We currently have zero corporate partners who are committed to providing internship opportunities to our student-athletes. We will secure and document five or more each year going forward.

Metric 3.4. 

We currently have one full-time athletics-wide team chaplain. We will work with the School of Divinity to provide increase that number to three by July 1, 2023, six by July 1, 2024, and a team chaplain for each athletic program by July 1, 2025 to support the spiritual and mental health of the student-athletes and coaches.

Objective 4. 

Recruit and retain student-athletes to grow enrollment and improve our Title IX female sports opportunities.

Metric 4.1. 

We will add at least one new female sport by July 1, 2025.

II. Strengthening GWU’s Financial Base

Commitment 2

We will increase and diversify the sources of revenue needed to sustain the growth and strengthening of our vibrant, comprehensive University.

Objective 5. 

We will review our business operations to establish win-win partnerships that either derive new revenue streams or reduce current budget expenditures as well as create premium fan services or offerings that will result in additional revenue streams.

Metric 5.1. 

We will grow annual corporate sponsorship revenue,  $58,388 by 10% or more each year with a special emphasis on creating new inventory on each of our advertising platforms (radio, in-venue, social media, e-mail, and digital broadcasting) and providing omni-channel advertising opportunities to our corporate partners.

Metric 5.2. 

Prior to July 1, 2023, we will leverage the value of our athletic training services with a healthcare partner to help us either derive an additional $50,000 of revenue each year or reduce expenditures by $100,000 each year to support our athletics training facilities and operations.

Metric 5.3. 

We currently have no revenue associated with co-licensed apparel deals that allow both Gardner-Webb and our student-athletes to generate revenue via Name, Image, and Likeness. We will establish at least one product offering before July 1, 2023 and grow that to three products before July 1, 2024 as well as look to generate $1,000 in licensing revenue each year.

Metric 5.4. 

We will add at least one female sport by July 1, 2025, which should enhance institutional revenues through tuition, room, board, sponsorships, and scholarship gifts.

Metric 5.5. 

We currently derive no revenue from basketball courtside seats or football club suites. We will generate $5,000 from each annually, beginning in 2023.

Objective 6. 

In coordination with the office of the Vice President of Advancement, Athletics will grow funding in conjunction with our annual fund, major gifts, corporate sponsorships, and secure funding for primary naming rights to available facilities on campus and seek secondary naming opportunities (i.e. offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms) for facilities where the primary naming rights have already been secured.

Metric 6.1. 

We will grow the number of annual fund donors from 240 to 300 by July 1, 2023 then grow by 15% each year moving forward.  

III. Become An Indispensable Partner To The Town, County, and Region

Commitment 3

Gardner-Webb University is a private university with a very public mission. We will increase our positive impact in the broader community and in the region by partnering with those who share our interest in improving the quality of life in Cleveland County and beyond.

Objective 7. 

We will provide more fan and community engagement opportunities for Boiling Springs, Cleveland County and surrounding communities and counties.

Metric 7.1. 

Historically, we have invited on average, three community groups per year to appear on field or on court during our events to promote their businesses and community initiatives. We will grow this to ten community groups per year to support community initiatives.

Metric 7.2. 

Currently unrequired and unaccounted for, Coaches and Athletics Administrators will commit to making 12 or more speaking engagements per year at local and regional events.

Metric 7.3. 

Currently, our programs offer nine youth camps. Our annual goal is to have each team provide at least one camp opportunity annually by July 31, 2025 that will encourage youth and their parents to visit campus throughout the year.

Objective 8. 

Adopt the generally accepted attendance and sales accounting methodology, create premium ticket areas to grow attendance numbers and ticket sales revenue for ticketed sports.  

Metric 8.1. 

Create a premium sales ticket or club space for the start of the 2023 season for both football and basketball, with the goal of raising a minimum of $5,000 per year.  

Metric 8.2. 

Grow overall ticket sales revenue by 10% annually each season for football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and baseball. Baseline for most recent completed seasons; Football = 75,279 Men’s Basketball = $13,202, Women’s Basketball = 5,803, Baseball = $4,614.

Metric 8.3. 

Currently we have zero corporate sponsorship season tickets included in our sponsorship deals. We aim to grow that to 100 for the 2023-24 academic year and then to 200 for the 2024-25 academic year.

Objective 9. 

We will continue to increase our community service involvement through the year.

Metric 9.1. 

Currently, we average ten teams submitting team-oriented community service projects per academic year. We will craft a plan to ensure each athletics program completes at least one team community service project each year.

Metric 9.2. 

In 2022-23 we have accounted for approximately 600 hours of community service completed by our student-athletes. We aim to grow this to greater than 1,000 hours per academic year each year moving forward.

Objective 10. 

We will lead efforts with alumni groups to create opportunities and generate excitement for returns to campus in addition to the traditional Homecoming, Hoopscoming, and Hall of Fame events.

Metric 10.1. 

We will document the annual increase in GWU Athletics participation in alumni events, with the expectation that such participation will increase by five percent each year of this Strategic Plan.

IV. Respect Our Heritage, Extend Our Brand, and Sharpen Our Identity

Commitment 4. 

We will achieve and sustain a reputation as North Carolina’s leader in Christian higher education.

Objective 11. 

We will win championships and raise competitive levels across all sports. We will become a constant factor in the conference title race and a regular contributor to conference strength and prestige.

Metric 11.1 

We will seek to rank in the top three of the Big South’s Sasser Cup standings annually and earn our first ever Sasser Cup title by no later than 2025. 

Metric 11.2 

We will get at least one team per year included in the national Top 25 rankings.

Metric 11.3. 

We will get at least two teams per year invited to post-season national tournaments.  

Metric 11.4. 

Historically, Gardner-Webb has not been well represented within NCAA and NACDA leadership events. We will document the annual increase in GWU Athletics participation in national-level leadership events, with the expectation that such participation will increase from 0 each year of this Strategic Plan.