The legacy of Iona athletics evolves with each passing generation. Men’s basketball goes back to the College's opening in 1940 and the men’s and women’s teams are founding members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Seven Gaels have gone on to play in the NBA and
WNBA, including hall-of-famer Richie Guerin (New York Knicks), former Gaels coach Jeff Ruland (Washington Bullets) and Martina Weber (New York Liberty). Legendary NCAA coach Jim Valvano notched 94 of his 346 NCAA wins with Iona. To date, the team’s twelfth and current coach Tim Cluess has added 90 victories to the storied Gaels program, having taken Iona to the NCAA tournament in two of the last four years and the NIT in spring 2014.
Beyond basketball, Iona Athletics maintains the same legacy of excellence. Cross Country/Track & Field has established itself as an indomitable force. Sophomore Kate Avery was third overall at the Women’s Cross Country 2013 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, IN, while the men’s cross country team earned a sixth place finish, returning the Gaels to the NCAA Top 10 for the eleventh time in the last 12 years. At the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, NM, Avery and senior Matthew Gillespie finished ninth and tenth, respectively, in the 3k.
Expansion and reconfiguration of current Iona facilities are needed to stay competitive with peer NCAA Division I institutions, to improve the student-athlete experience and to elevate the experience for all fans attending events. A larger, more fan-centered venue will also provide better multi-use facilities for non-athletic campus events such as major lectures, performances and campus gatherings.
The cornerstone of the athletic excellence component is an updated athletics complex and this facility will maximize recruitment and retention. Maintaining Iona’s commitment to student-athletes, the arena will help cement the Iona Gaels’ role as the premier athletic program in the region and the home team for Westchester County. The enhanced athletics center will also connect Iona to the community and its growing fan base like never before.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“Athletics at Iona is an outstanding, high-visibility endeavor for our College. It is so gratifying for me to see how the program has enabled our students to excel personally and academically throughout the years. Much of this competitive athletic culture has been woven into the Iona experience and it has extended well past Westchester County to reach our greater New York City region and beyond.”
Edward F. Arrigoni ’56, ’91H, Long-Time Iona Benefactor
“This project will bring Iona into the top tier of our peer institutions in support of our students. It transforms our entire athletics program and gives the College a first-class facility for other campus and community events.”
Rick Cole Jr., Director of Athletics
“Being a student-athlete at Iona has been more than rewarding for me. The teams and coaches are driven towards success and teach me valuable lessons that I hope to carry off the court. In recognition of the success of both basketball programs, a new athletics arena is needed to ensure Iona remains a national competitor and a leader in the MAAC.”
Damika Martinez ’15, Criminal Justice Major, Women’s Basketball Player