Drexel Hosting Squash Events as Tool to Strengthen Programs

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(from Sports Business Journal, October 1, 2012) The dream of every college is to compete at the highest level of athletics and academics, and to generate as much revenue as possible while competing at that high level.  Unfortunately, some colleges simply don’t have the money, student population, or proper venues to compete at these levels.  Drexel University, a 26,000-student private school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has had these same problems trying to get their sports and academic programs to compete at the highest levels, but unlike other small colleges, Drexel has developed a way to prove to the NCAA and all other critics that they are ready to take the big step into the upper echelon of college athletics and academics.

Drexel University will play host to the 2012 U.S. Open Squash Championships from October 4-12, which will feature 48 of the world’s best male and female players who will be competing for $185,000 in prize money, in hopes that this event will prove that they are capable of becoming part of the highest levels of college sports and academics.  The tournament will be held at Drexel’s 2,352-seat basketball arena, Daskalakis Athletic Center, which is modified into an intimate 800-seat venue that seats the front row two to three feet from the portable, glass wall-enclosed squash court.  According to Drexel’s Athletic Director, Eric Zillner, the fans sitting farther from the court will have no problems viewing the matches because there are video boards that will provide closer views and replays throughout the match.

School officials say that the big picture would be to see Drexel University become the permanent home for the event and for this event to draw greater attention to Drexel as it pursues student athletes to attend Drexel to play squash.  Although this tournament usually draws great crowds and great revenues, the biggest profits of the tournament will be drawn from the semifinals and the finals, which will air live on ESPN3.  Every small college looks for their way into mainstream college athletics and academics, but with the U.S. Open Squash Championships, Drexel University may have found the key to strengthening their athletics and academics for many years to come.