CLEVELAND, Miss. – Delta State University Director of Athletics Mike Kinnison has announced a five-year, $10 million athletic campaign to raise funds for student-athlete scholarships and academic support, facility enhancements, and staff supplements, as well as program additions.
Kinnison said, “Statesmen and Lady Statesmen Athletics are an effective part of DSU’s academic mission. Our programs can unify alumni involvement and support, afford national recognition, promote recruitment, and offer a shared sense of pride among the Delta State family. The University’s athletic program must build for national prominence.”
The athletic campaign committee, consisting of fundraisers and current and former Delta State staff and athletes, has already raised over $1,000,000. The top contributors thus far are Tim and Nancy Harvey (’80), the namesakes of the Delta State baseball stadium, who pledged a $300,000 gift.
Tim Harvey said, “Nancy and I are pleased to support the athletic portion of the Delta State Centennial fundraising campaign and its transformational plans for our university. Athletics has always been an important part of the university bringing quality student-athletes to our school and providing exciting entertainment activities for students, alumni and fans.”
Celeste Turner, a 2021 NCAA National Champion swimmer in the 200 Butterfly, hopes to see the athletics program grow and excel because of this campaign.
“The swim and dive program has done a lot for me in my time at Delta State. My hope is that this campaign will afford future athletes the same opportunities I received here.”
As revered Mississippi sports writer Rick Cleveland noted in a column last year, Delta State, in many ways, is the most successful college athletics program in Mississippi, winning national championships in baseball, football, swimming and women’s basketball. In all sports combined, Delta State athletes have claimed 14 national titles, 37 regional championships and 68 conference titles.
Kinnison said, “Delta State Athletics revels in a historic and storied past. The only way to ensure that the past, present and future teams converge in excellence is to continue moving forward and expanding.”
Kinnison feels that building a multipurpose turf indoor practice facility will provide a competitive edge for athletes and coaches in all sports. He said that this component of the campaign has the potential to benefit the largest number of athletes in the largest number of sports by providing practice continuity in inclement weather, additional strength and conditioning components, dressing rooms and meeting room space.
“Our Athletic Department is at a point of needed growth,” he said. “We need to add sports to be more competitive in our conference, to enhance enrollment, and to create balance within our offerings for women. Optimal sports to add would be women’s volleyball and golf. These would require reoccurring funds to sustain the programs and provide the best chance for success.”
Kinnison also pointed out that coaching staffs become the primary support system for athletes away from home. “Recruits want to know there will be continuity within a coaching staff for their entire playing career,” he said. “The competitive nature of college athletics requires multiyear commitments to ensure success. Many of our sports are understaffed and need full time assistant coaches to better provide player development and program success.
“The most lasting measures of an athletics program is the academic success of its student-athletes. Decades after games are over, a university will be evaluated by how well it prepared its players for life. Enhanced technology in our computer labs, increased tutoring opportunities, academic advisement personnel, and life skills programs are elements that will give our student-athletes the best environment to foster success in the classroom and beyond.”