COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced plans to launch parallel campaigns - Olympians Made Here and Paralympians Made Here - to celebrate national team student-athletes and advance collegiate Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities on campuses across the country. Launched today in honor of the one-year countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the non-commercial solidarity campaigns are the latest initiatives taken by the USOPC's Collegiate Advisory Council to enhance collaboration between colleges, universities and conferences, the USOPC and its member National Governing Bodies.
With commitments from more than 100 American universities and representation from 24 conferences across NCAA DI, DII and DIII levels - including participation from all Power Five institutions, West Coast Conference universities and the NCAA - the campaigns are the first of their kind to focus on elevating the profile of collegiate Olympic and adaptive sport programs, and their impact on the Olympic and Paralympic movements at the national level. Additionally, more than 20 collegiate-centric NGBs have joined the campaign.
Following the launch on July 24, the campaigns will manifest on participating college campuses in four phases throughout the 2019-20 academic year - including honoring collegiate historical contributions to Team USA in the fall of 2019; tracking the Olympic and Paralympic qualification and team selection process in the spring of 2020; celebrating athletes' inspiring performances during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer; and concluding with recognition of student-athletes' Olympic and Paralympic achievements in the fall of 2020.
"We are grateful for this collaboration that provides a unique opportunity for athletes to learn, grow and compete as they shape their dreams, in both sport and in life," said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. "Collegiate athletics are critical to Team USA's success, and for the athletes who take great pride in representing both their schools and their national teams on the world stage, the student-athlete experience is invaluable to their Olympic or Paralympic journey."
The impact of Team USA's collegiate footprint was evident at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, where nearly 80 percent of U.S. athletes - and 85 percent of U.S. medalists - had ties to collegiate programs. Additionally, one-third of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team - and 50 percent of U.S. medalists - competed collegiately. On the Paralympic side, 41 U.S. athletes who competed at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 competed on varsity programs as an athlete with a disability.
"The American collegiate model is a unique opportunity for student-athletes to develop academically, athletically and personally at a prime development stage in their lives," said Dick Fosbury, Olympic champion and chair of the United States Olympians & Paralympians Association. "I am grateful for my collegiate experience at Oregon State and believe this campaign is essential to celebrating and strengthening Olympic sport opportunities on campus for future Olympians and Paralympians."
Paralympians Made Here is inclusive of both disability-specific programs like wheelchair basketball - a sport where 97 percent of national team members have competed collegiately - and of varsity teams that include athletes with a disability, including rowing where 82 percent of current national team members have competed collegiately.
Further research conducted by the USOPC's collegiate partnerships division and the NCAA affirmed significant contributions of both the collegiate and USOPC ecosystems in supporting holistic elite athlete development. NCAA DI institutions alone invest $5.6 billion annually to support Olympic sport programs through state-of-the-art facilities, training and coaching expertise, among other services. Meanwhile, the USOPC and NGBs support elite student-athletes by providing access to industry leaders in science and medicine, cutting-edge technology and stipends to offset living expenses.
"The NCAA has long been an incredibly impactful partner with the USOPC and the NGBs by providing student-athletes, whom also happen to be elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes, with incredible support," said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling executive director and USOPC board member. "The Olympians Made Here and Paralympians Made Here campaigns are wonderful examples of providing the much deserved recognition for that commitment and support. Programs like the Regional Training Center Model are terrific examples of the Olympic family and the NCAA working together to support both prospective and current NCAA student-athletes, as well as our country's Olympians. The NCAA Emerging Sport Status process is also helping create new Olympic sports opportunities for women within the NCAA structure."
Participating institutions are encouraged to celebrate both their current and historical contributions to Team USA - as well as international teams - in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games by using the official campaign hashtags, #OlympiansMadeHere and #ParalympiansMadeHere. Additionally, the USOPC will provide registered schools, conferences and NGBs with pre-approved digital assets - including a campaign playbook, social templates, campaign logos, customizable scripts, video tools and other best practices for activation - all with the aim of sharing the inspiring stories of national team student-athletes and coaches while illustrating the value of Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities in the American collegiate model.
For more information, visit TeamUSA.org/OlympiansMadeHere and TeamUSA.org/ParalympiansMadeHere.
About the USOPC CAC The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Collegiate Advisory Council was formed in October 2017 and is chaired by USOPC board member Kevin White (Duke University). The 10-member council is charged with increasing collaboration with NCAA member institutions and conferences to elevate national engagement and support of Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities on campus. The council is comprised of:
- Sandy Barbour, Pennsylvania State University director of athletics
- Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference commissioner
- Greg Byrne, University of Alabama athletics director
- Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina director of athletics
- Bernard Muir, Stanford University athletic director
- Rob Mullens, University of Oregon athletic director
- Chris Plonsky, University of Texas executive sr. associate athletics director/chief of staff
- Gene Smith, The Ohio State University senior vice president and athletic director
- Scott Stricklin, University of Florida athletic director
- Kevin White, Duke University vice president and director of athletics