’Canes athletics: Building champions on and off the field

Members of the men's basketball team celebrate their advance in tournament play during March Madness. Photo: University of Miami Athletics
By Julio Frenk

Members of the men's basketball team celebrate their advance in tournament play during March Madness. Photo: University of Miami Athletics

’Canes athletics: Building champions on and off the field

By Julio Frenk
In the midst of a busy season, highlighted by March Madness and spring football, President Julio Frenk celebrates the importance of ’Canes athletics and our student-athletes.

During a recent meeting with the City of Coral Gables, the mayor mentioned that the Miami Hurricanes belong to the entire community, not just the University of Miami. His comment underscored the notion that our athletics program is dynamic and influential, both on and off the field. The interest in our programs and the success of our student-athletes have a ripple effect in our community and for alumni and fans around the world. 

To reach our highest aspirations, we must compete and win in each of our areas of endeavor: education and research, health care, intercollegiate athletics, and technological innovation. We have made historic investments in athletics this year, welcoming Dan Radakovich, one of the most respected athletics directors in the country, back to the U. Yet the University’s rich tradition dates to our founding—with the initial games played during our very first semester in the fall of 1926.

Since then, we have built one of the nation’s great athletics programs, one that has won 21 team national championships, earned 84 individual championships, and produced 50 Olympic athletes. Our women’s basketball team’s exhilarating season—which made Katie Meier the winningest coach in school history—and our men’s team’s first entry into the Sweet Sixteen in more than half a decade are the latest feats to excite our fanbase.

Earlier this month at the 2022 NCAA Championships, Mia Vallée, on our women’s diving team, earned an NCAA national title, set an NCAA Championship record in the 1-meter springboard, and achieved the third All-America honor of her career. Teammate, Emma Gullstrand, picked up an Honorable Mention All-America honor as well. And just last week, Eden Richardson beat the reigning NCAA women’s tennis champion in one of the most compelling victories in our program’s history.

Our storied football program rose to prominence in the 1980s, winning its first national title in 1983. We are poised to come back strong this fall with our new coaching staff led by head coach, double ’Cane, and two-time national champion Mario Cristobal.

The University has captured five national championships in football, five in women’s golf, four each in polo and baseball, two in women’s swimming and diving, and one in men’s crew. We currently field teams in 18 sports, as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which we joined in 2004 after 13 years in the Big East. March is usually the busiest month for Athletics because winter sports are in postseason play, spring sports are well into their seasons, and spring football practice has just started. 

Off the field, our student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom. Their most recent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 91 percent marked the sixth consecutive year, and ninth year in the past 10, that the U has earned a four-year average rate of 90 percent or higher. Our student-athletes also contribute to our local community by volunteering. In 2021, the University finished third in the nation and first in the ACC in the NCAA Team Works Community Service Challenge, posting a total of 3,174 hours.  

These young women and men stand on the shoulders of groundbreakers who have proudly worn our orange and green for generations. In 1973, Terry Williams Munz, a member of the 1977 national championship golf team, became the first woman in the country to receive an athletic scholarship. Decades later, thanks to Title IX, thousands of women at UM and hundreds of thousands more nationwide have followed her footsteps. Since Munz’s first scholarship, women’s athletics at the U has grown to include nine sports that compete at the NCAA level.  

To showcase the accomplishments of women from around the University and to support gender equality on and off the field of play, UM Athletics launched Together 4 Her to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Title IX legislation. This year-round initiative aims to educate, engage, elevate, and empower women everywhere. 

The signature event for Together 4 Her is the Eighth Annual Celebration of Women’s Athletics and will take place at the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on Sunday, April 10. Proceeds from this event will be used to provide our female students-athletes with first-class opportunities to compete, study, and become the next generation of leaders. Tickets are available for the event

We are proud of our student-athletes and look forward to continuing to solidify our legacy as champions within the community and around the world. As our men’s basketball team prepares to make a run tonight at what would be our first appearance in the Elite Eight, join me in wishing them a great game. Whatever the outcome, the connection and stories around their post season reflect the heart of ’Canes everywhere.

To all our student-athletes, dedicated coaches, and athletics staff, and to the entire community that fuels their passion for the U, thank you and Go ’Canes!

Julio Frenk is president of the University of Miami.