As we begin a new academic year, we look forward to an exciting future for both academic excellence and athletic success. In looking back at 2013-14, we are pleased to have realized many great things on the field of competition, in the classroom and in the community. We were able to accomplish a number of goals, which support our student-athletes and our athletic programs. We saw improvements in the academic performance of our student-athletes and the impact they make with their service to society. Additionally, we saw progress in the upgrades of many of our facilities, announced new levels of giving, and introduced a bold and powerful visual identity for Fighting Illini Athletics.
Academically, our student-athletes excelled in their studies. The overall average GPA for Fall 2013 was 3.23 and Spring 2014 was 3.14. Six of our varsity teams boasted a 100 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) while five of our teams received a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA. Illinois had a strong academic representation in the Big Ten with 64 student-athletes being named to Academic All-Big Ten Teams. Additionally, 59 student-athletes were placed on the UI Dean's List in Fall 2013 followed by 40 student-athletes on the Spring 2014 list.
As always, we are committed to developing well-rounded student-athletes. Our Life Skills program focuses on achieving five key goals: academic excellence, athletic excellence, personal development, career development and community service. Collectively, our Fighting Illini student-athletes performed more than 7,000 hours of volunteer service. Programs benefitting from their time include Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Hometown Heroes. These fine young men and women are making a positive impact and a difference in this community.
On the field of competition, our Men's Golf program continues to be a national powerhouse. They won their NCAA Regional Championship and tied for fifth in the NCAA Championships. Four of our student-athletes earned Big Ten Championship status: Chandler Eggleston (Men's Gymnastics, Floor), Ahlivia Spencer (Women's Track and Field, 800m), Kandie Block-Jones (Women's Track and Field, high jump), and Stephon Pamilton (Men's Track and Field, 400m). And finally, Jordan Valdez (Men's Gymnastics, High Bar) earned the NCAA Championship title while Jesse Delgado (Wrestling) was the NCAA Champion in his weight division for the second year in a row.
We continue to remain fiscally responsible. It is imperative to be good stewards of our resources. We are proud of a solid track record of working within a balanced budget - 22-straight years and counting. This has been achieved even as we are engaged in significant improvement projects of many of our facilities, as well as tuition obligations, which tend to increase on an annual basis. At the core of our financial structure, we are diligent to assure that we remain transparent, ethical and work within the highest levels of integrity.
Moving forward, we are working diligently to improve our donor base, our look and our presence. Our I FUND team recently restructured their giving levels and introduced a new tier of support known as "Illini Nation." They also developed and introduced an aggressive campaign goal of "15 x 15 x 2020" meaning 15,000 donors generously giving $15 million annually by the year 2020. In doing so, we will be able to attract some of the nation's most elite student-athletes through athletic scholarships. These scholarships will provide our student-athletes the opportunity to compete at the highest collegiate level while earning an outstanding education at one of the finest educational institutions in this country. This past April, after partnering with Nike on re-branding for several months, we introduced a new brand and identity system that sets the visual direction for Fighting Illini Athletics for years to come. The goal of this initiative was to develop an innovative and consistent athletic identity that pays tribute to the university's legacy and tradition. The new graphics, uniforms and victory badge are dynamic, vibrant and very well received by our student-athletes, fans, alumni and donors.
Looking ahead, 2014-15 will be eventful. Construction on State Farm Center is progressing nicely and our student-athletes are training and preparing for much success on the field of competition and in the classroom. We will accomplish much with the continued support of our alumni, fans, corporate community and all loyal members of Fighting Illini Nation. As we all work together, we will elevate this great university to even higher levels of excellence. I certainly wish to thank you for your loyal support.
Director of Athletics