49ers Athletics: Driver of school spirit and alumni pride

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The droves of students, alumni and other 49ers fans who traveled to the Bahamas in December to experience firsthand the football team’s first-ever bowl game — and the additional thousands who watched on television on campus and at viewing parties nationwide-- provide a window to the value of winning NCAA Division I athletics to UNC Charlotte. 

That level of enthusiasm isn’t built overnight, but rather cultivated through unwavering support for all University athletic programs and recognition of their importance to a thriving student body and an active and engaged alumni base.

Chancellor Philip L. Dubois understands athletics is an avenue to creating awareness of UNC Charlotte for a number of prospective students, including many who are not themselves student-athletes, as well as a point of pride for a great many alumni and donors. And he has nurtured an environment that reflects this approach — from establishing the football program in fall 2013 and women’s golf in fall 2017, to supporting the construction and upgrade of athletics facilities that contribute to a positive fan experience and help student-athletes flourish. His attention to athletics as a driver of overall institutional health has attracted the right people to UNC Charlotte Athletics. Seasoned administrator Mike Hill became athletics director in March 2018, and subsequently hired winning coaches to lead the University’s more high-profile programs: Will Healy for football and Ron Sanchez for men’s basketball. 

Currently, UNC Charlotte’s 18-sport NCAA Division I Athletics is winning more than competitions on the field or court. Athletics is a winner in terms of the level of pride it is generating for the University.

“Just in the short time that I have been at UNC Charlotte, the amount of growth I have seen in athletics, on campus, and throughout the Charlotte community has been nothing short of incredible,” said women’s golf coach Holly Clark. “So much of that is a tribute to what Chancellor Dubois has done to make this growth possible. His ability to lead others, see out his vision of a greater university and create a strong sense of unity on campus and in the community is admirable.”  

Bob Olesen, director, UNC Charlotte Track & Field/Cross Country

Bob Olesen 

Director, Track & Field/Cross Country

Chancellor Dubois has been a very strong supporter of athletics as a way to enhance the lives of student-athletes and the student body. Athletics represents the University across the country, raising awareness and promoting our brand, helping to drive enrollment, philanthropy and alumni engagement, which all serve to enhance the students’ lives and collegiate experience — a great tool for a chancellor to employ as part of their effort to accomplish these same goals.  

Specifically in my areas of men's and women's cross country and track and field, we have been able to provide many student-athletes with valuable life experiences and raise the school's profile by winning numerous Atlantic 10 and Conference USA championships and representing the 49ers at the national and international levels, from national championships to the Olympics. Chancellor Dubois consistently and personally promotes success with an emphasis on integrity and sportsmanship to all athletics staff, and we have appreciated his robust support of our efforts to enhance our student-athletes and the student body's experiences at UNC Charlotte.

Holly Clark, head coach of UNC Charlotte's Women’s Golf

Holly Clark

Women’s Golf

As our Athletics Department has grown over the last few years, I have seen the energy of our staff and student-athletes explode. I think it has helped create more competition, a higher standard of excellence, stronger leadership and more opportunity for growth in the future.  There seems to be more engagement with students and faculty on campus, increasing the numbers in attendance at athletic events, which in turn helps boost school spirit. I sense more pride on this campus now than ever before — pride in that we are all Niners and in this together. In my opinion, part of the college experience is being involved in as much as you can on campus. Sporting events are one of the best ways to get involved and a great opportunity to participate in school traditions and meet other people. 

Karen Weatherington, head coach of UNC Charlotte Volleyball

Karen Weatherington 


Chancellor Dubois has been an integral part of enhancing the student experience through athletics at UNC Charlotte. As a proud supporter of all sports, he’s taken a personal interest in our program, from meeting with recruit prospects to cheering us on at matches. He’s helped us position the volleyball program into a champion contender. 

His vision for athletics affords us an opportunity to compete at a high level. Sports can provide a window to the university experience. Phil’s leadership and planning has given us incredible facilities for sports and recreation that are the best in our league. The new University Recreation Center gives so many a chance to pursue sport and fitness. His impact continues to have a positive effect on every athletics program and student at UNC Charlotte. 

Cara Consuegra, head coach of Women’s Basketball

Cara Consuegra

Women’s Basketball

The chancellor has always been very supportive of athletics and women's athletics in particular. He and his wife Lisa are consistent supporters in the stands at women's basketball games. For our women's basketball players to see the leader of our university at their games, it means so much. It shows that our women are important and valued and that contributes to their confidence and growth here at UNC Charlotte. It also shares the message to all female students at UNC Charlotte that women at our University truly matter.