Athletic Prosperity Sets Winning Culture

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Athletic Prosperity Sets Winning Culture

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*This story was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Nicholls Worth: The Magazine, and is being posted online as part of an initiative to archive our print stories.


Building a culture of success is vital for any college sports program. Especially for smaller universities such as Nicholls State University, having a winning culture is vital for attracting athletes during recruitment and securing funds from donors that help the athletic department do its job.

Winning is very important. Players, coaches and fans are happy, donors that support athletic programs can see that their money is going toward building success and the university itself receives more attention from people across the nation.

With the recent success of a bevy of Nicholls State University athletic programs, the groundwork has been laid for a culture of success that has the foundation to continue to flourish in the coming years.

Nicholls athletics has seen a progressive growth from four sports: football, men’s and women’s basketball and softball, over the last three years. The combined winning percentages of these sports during their 2015-16 seasons was 0.415 percent. The next year, 2016-17, saw a tick upwards to a mark of 0.440 percent. The 2017-18 season, however, showed the most growth so far, with softball still yet to complete the year with their season winding down towards Southland Conference tournament play, with a combined percentage of 0.623 percent.

The Colonels football team kicked off the athletic season with a streak of success under head coach Tim Rebowe. The team went 8-4 on the season, one that included many hard-fought games, especially one against Southeastern Conference powerhouse Texas A&M University that was viewed by a large portion of the country on ESPN. That exposure on a national stage coupled with the stellar performance of the team was something that was very important to the university community as a whole, according to athletic director Matt Roan.

“When we have the opportunity to showcase ourselves as we did this past year on stages such as Texas A&M, perspective students see that on television and want to be associated with that,” Roan said. “They know that ‘Hey, Nicholls is a legit Division I program.’”

The Nicholls men’s basketball team added to the athletics success story with an exciting year that ended with the Colonels on top of Southland Conference standings at the season’s end. The team went 21-11 on the season, improving from last year’s record of 11-23. This tied the program’s best record since the 2008-09 season.

Women’s basketball increased from 10 to 19 wins from last season to this season and contributed to the streak of success built this year with an outstanding season that included a Southland Conference championship and the first trip to the NCAA tournament in program history. The exposure that the Colonels received, both as a team and as a university, from competing on one of the biggest stages in college basketball will be beneficial to the university, both athletically and academically.

“Having the opportunity to play Mississippi State University on national television in the first round of the NCAA tournament, that’s going to carry a lot of weight for us and recruiting, just general students as well,” Roan said. “That’s the exposure that we can’t pay for. Those are marketing dollars that we use don’t have the budget for, so when we go play on a big stage, that benefits the university.”

Softball is on track to improve from last year’s record of 37-20. Their current record has Nicholls softball among the leaders of Southland Conference standings with three games left to play.

Roan explained that the success of certain athletic programs at Nicholls gives other programs a competitive edge and an incentive to perform well.

“I think more than anything else that it’s established a culture of winning,” Roan said. “Winning is contagious. I think that now we’ve gone from fall to winter now into spring, teams look at one another, they like to compete. We compete with our Conference peers and regional peers, but at the same time, we compete almost with one another. You want to be the best team; you want the most success. So I think for us, the comprehensive success that we’ve had has established a culture of winning.”

For modest athletic departments such as the one at Nicholls, the exposure and culture built from winning seasons and national exposure greatly contribute to the culture of the teams and the progress they make over the years.

“We embrace who we are, and we’ve kind of talked about [it] with some of our correspondents. We always talk about culture, pride and success,” explained Roan. “We are who we are, we’re blue collar, we’re not going to change that. We are maybe sometimes a school that, somebody else overlooked our players. Well, they’re going to come here to Nicholls and we’re going to develop them better than anyone else, and we’re going to win with those kids. I heard Dr. Jay Clune say this just a few days ago, that Nicholls does a lot of things great. Nicholls athletics is doing a lot of things great right now, we just haven’t had the opportunity to necessarily tell that story.”

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