Athletics shine at Bowman Breakfast

Jackie Valley

French toast and bacon brought university and community members together yesterday morning for the 48th biannual Bowman Breakfast featuring Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy as the keynote speaker.

Speaking to a crowd of about 230 people in the Student Center Ballroom, Kennedy drew laughter from the audience as he joked about the perks of his job, which includes attending many collegiate sporting events.

“I love my job with a passion,” he said. “I never have to graduate. I never have to leave town. I never have to grow up.”

Kennedy said Kent State intercollegiate athletics “bridges town-gown relationships with enthusiasm” by bringing together university and community members of diverse backgrounds at sporting events.

“Ten thousand people do not buy tickets to go watch a chemistry class,” he said. “There is no scoreboard at the end of the lab.

“However, those students get their gold on to cheer on the Golden Flashes.”

In addition, Kennedy said the athletic programs provide beneficial returns to the university and Kent community.

In the classroom, Kennedy said Kent State’s student athletes boast a 2.96 grade point average and an overall 78 percent graduation rate. The football team possesses an 81 percent graduation rate — the best in the Mid-American Conference.

On the basketball court, Kennedy said Kent State is just one of nine Division I teams, including Duke, Florida and Kansas, with nine consecutive 20-win seasons.

“We are the model of excellence in action at Kent State,” he said.

Off campus, Kennedy said the athletics program assists the economy, but he said more could be done to host traveling teams, citing a need for a hotel convention center in Kent.

“I have no emotional desire to assist the economy of Akron,” he said. “My heart is in Kent — my town and university.

“A rate of return should be in Kent.”

Before coming to Kent 11 years ago, Kennedy held a similar position at Cornell University. He is currently a third-year member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee.

Daniel Smith, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Bowman Breakfast began in 1963, and is organized by the university in the fall and the Chamber of Commerce in the spring.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to learn about what’s happening in the city and the university,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].