A Banner Year for Villanova Sports
|Krestena Sullivan was named Villanova's female Student-Athlete of the Year. (File photo)|
Wildcat student-athletes earned a combined grade point average of 2.91 during the spring semester of 1997, an all-time high. The Wildcats' 2.90 gpa for the academic year of 1996-97 also set a school record. The women's tennis squad posted a team gpa of 3.29 to lead all Villanova athletic teams.
Three Wildcat student-athletes were named to Academic All-America teams in 1996-97.
Krestena Sullivan (track, 3.72 gpa) and Clint Park (football, 3.94 gpa) were named Villanova's Student-Athletes of the Year for 1996-97. Tom Tracey (Swimming) earned the Sister Mary Margaret Cribben award, presented to the student-athlete who typifies spirit and leadership.
Eight of Villanova's athletic teams finished in the top 27 nationally.
Wildcat student-athletes earned All-America honors on 18 different occasions in 1996-97.
Villanova teams claimed three Big East Conference team championships.
12 Villanova Wildcats were named to their First-team All-League team.
Three Villanova Wildcats were cited as Rookies of the Year in their respective sports.
The women's crew team, in its first season of varsity competition at Villanova, met with great success, capturing the total points award at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta.
In 1996, William B. Finneran endowed the Villanova head men's basketball coaches' salary by donating $1 million to his alma mater. In 1997, five other individuals followed suit, endowing the scholarships of the Wildcats' starting five positions: Rocco A. Barbieri, Arthur J. Kania, William P. Melchionni, Matthew J. Morahan, and Edward J. Welsh. In the past four years, the capital and athletic endowment has increased to nearly $6.5 million.
The Wildcat corporate sponsorship, licensing, and marketing programs have grossed nearly $12 million over the last four years.
Villanova refurbished the women's softball field, improving the facility to one of the best in the Big East Conference. Dugouts, an outfield fence, and a warm-up area were built.
The Wildcats' baseball field was enhanced with a new playing surface and bullpen in addition to a warning track and new outfield fence.
State-of-the-art lights were installed in Villanova stadium, improving the quality of all Wildcat night contests.
To commemorate the opening of Villanova's new softball field, USA Softball Olympian and gold medalist Dot Richardson christened the new field by throwing out the first pitch in the Wildcats' doubleheader with Boston College.
Len Merullo, Frank Skaff, Phil Fidalgo and Art Mahan became the first baseball players in Villanova history to have their numbers retired.
The tradition continued for retiring track all-time greats. On Homecoming 1996, five former Villanova track stars were honored: Sydney Maree, Ed Collymore, Rolando Cruz, Erv Hall, and Dave Patrick.
Basketball All-American Howard Porter returned to campus with his 1971 Final Four teammates for his jersey retirement and a special celebration.
The Villanova swimming team inducted Matt Mone and Don Reed into its prestigious Wall of Honor.
Wildcat student-athletes reached out to the community, taking part in numerous service projects:
The men's and women's basketball team visited Children's Hospital during the Christmas holidays.
A group of basketball, soccer, and football players took park in a campus beautification project at Olney High School in Philadelphia.
A variety of student-athletes served on a panel in an educational seminar for middle school children in conjunction with the Big East Track & Field Championships, held at Villanova.
The Wildcat men's basketball squad teamed up with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to promote child immunization.
Over 300 different groups and nearly 3,500 children were invited to the Villanova campus during the 1996-97 season for athletic events.