To the Editor:
As I sit here typing this letter, the Rider men’s basketball team has lost yet again and stands with a record of 1-5. It looks like the beginning of yet another mediocre season, just like so many others I’ve had to endure the last 15 years or so.
I will now make the same plea I’ve made since graduating in 2002: Can the basketball program please start to perform at a higher level? It doesn’t have to always be this way. This year, our rivals, Monmouth, have already defeated two big-time basketball teams in Notre Dame and UCLA. Our conference mates Siena and Manhattan in years past have won games and made waves in the NCAA tournament. Iona even got an at-large bid to the tournament a few years ago! Yet Rider continues to slough along in mediocrity. Why must this be? No one’s asking Rider to start competing with Big East teams; why can’t we even compete with the top MAAC teams?
I attended a recent alumni event in New York City and was heartened to hear that athletics would be a big focus in coming years. Let’s hope this also includes the replacement of Alumni Gym, quite honestly an embarrassing facility for a Division I program.
And to tell you the truth, I really don’t care all that much if Rider improves its academic standing. I’ve long since graduated and have a successful career, and the school moving up a few points in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking means little to my future prospects. I won’t brag if a Rider student wins a MacArthur genius grant; but I will brag and swell with pride if we actually make the NCAA tournament, and even win a game once there, by God.
So while investing in academics is all well and good, I urge the leaders of this school to focus primarily on athletics, and specifically the basketball program, since it’s a popular national sport wherein success would bring Rider widespread glory.
For perspective, the last time Rider made the NCAA tournament, Barack Obama had never held elected office; he’s now finishing up his second term as President of the United States. Let’s hope it’s not another two decades before Rider basketball tastes success again.
—Bryan Yurcan ’02
Editor’s note: Since this letter was written, Rider’s records has gone from 1-5 to 1-8.
Printed in the 12/09/15 issue.