When we think sports here at Gothamist, we don't exactly think Columbia University or any other colleges in NYC for that matter, but things may be changing in Morningside Heights. Columbia's new Athletic Director (who knew they even had one), M. Dianne Murphy, announced that she's going to make some changes. The "facilities are woefully inadequate" and the "tradition of losing in most sport programs at Columbia frustrates and demoralizes alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff." Ouch.
While Ivy League universities are hardly known for their athletic programs, there are some schools with teams that are on the national scene. Princeton has its basketball team and all have their rowing teams, but for Columbia, losing in some sports has become a tradition. The football team is 1-7 this season and their last winning season was in 1996. From 1983-1988, they lost 44 games in a row. Since 1979, the men's basketball team has only four winning seasons. All told, the Lions have won 13 NCAA titles, all in fencing.
Success for Columbia on a national scale may be difficult because of the league's lack of athletic scholarships, but relative to the success of other Ivy schools, Columbia still has a long way to go. Murphy plans "a more aggressive and expanded sports marketing and corporate sponsorship program," but it may take more than that. To have a competitive program, the University would likely need much improved facilities as well. With that, comes the need for money or real estate.
Despite the obstacles, it seems like AD Murphy is off to a good start. If she brings some of the winning attitude from her previous post at the University of Denver, things will surely improve. The Pioneers were the 2004 National Champions in Hockey.
Phil Wallace of LAist gives us some woeful numbers for the Columbia Lions:
- Columbia has won the fewest Ivy titles historically and in the last five years
- It hasn't won a football title since in 43 years (and that was a split title)
- It hasn't won a basketball title in 36 years
- 10 of its 13 women's teams were in the bottom half of the league last year
- The women's lacrosse team is 0-49 all time in the Ivy League
- The women's field hockey team this year won its first Ivy game since 2001
- The women's volleyball won its first Ivy game this year since 2002
While the Ivy League obviously isn't an athletic powerhouse, Columbia can surely do better. They're just lucky they can't get bumped down to Division II.
Photo by Christopher Glenn/CDS