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Kenney leads Braves athletics into future

By Curtis Brooks
Sports Editor

March 29, 2012

Photo by Kyra Ruivo
Members of the UNCP cheerleading team perform a routine during the 125th Celebration on March 14.

Dan Kenney took over as the Director of Athletics 14 years ago and has constructed the athletic program into one of the premiere programs in the Peach Belt Conference in athletics as well as in academics.

According to Kenney, as the town of Pembroke has improved over the last decade, so has the institution and the athletics programs.

When Kenney arrived on campus in 1998, the athletics programs' budget was just over $629,000. After major improvements to the athletics programs, the budget has increased to $3 million.

Since Kenney arrived in 1998, the university has added three successful programs in football, women's soccer and women's golf, all of which have experienced success.

UNCP now has 16 teams that compete in Division II athletics; all except football competes in the Peach Belt Conference.

Kenney takes pride that UNCP student-athletes have had great success in the classroom since he became the Director of Athletics.

When UNCP left the NAIA in 1992 and joined NCAA Division II, the university was among one of the worst rated institutions. Today, Black and Gold athletes have bolstered the university's academic rating to the top portion of the Peach Belt Conference.

"Our student-athletes average higher GPAs, retention rate and graduation rates than the rest of the student body, and we expect that," Kenney proudly said.

Kenney is exploring the opportunity to start both lacrosse and swimming programs at UNCP in the future due to popularity in the region and the proper facilities to hold the respective sports.

Kenney is also seeking a conference affiliation for the football team without having to cut ties with the Peach Belt Conference for other sports. Football, as well wresting and track and field, currently compete as independents with no conference affliation.

"We are going to continue to strive for the goals we've always had and become one of the upper echelon programs in the Peach Belt Conference by presenting a good academic product, continue to improve our facilities and having the right amount of scholarship money to award to potential student-athletes," Kenney said.

The future looks bright for UNCP athletics, as Kenney continues to lead a rapidly growing program that continues to raise the bar.

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