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Book chronicles campus’ athletic history


A new book details the history of athletics on campus, providing a snapshot of the sporting life in Binghamton through several distinct eras.

Tim Schum, author of From Colonials to Bearcats: A History of Binghamton University Athletics 1946-2006, said he sees the sports program on campus as a complement to the competitive academic environment.

Schum, a retired faculty member in the Athletics Department and former soccer and golf coach, took on the book project about seven years ago at the suggestion of Joel Thirer, director of health, physical education and athletics. The 343-page hardcover book includes detailed histories of each sport, including team and individual records, as well as profiles of athletes and coaches. Numerous photographs help to tell the story.

Schum divides Binghamton’s athletic history into three eras: From 1946-’59, the school was laying the foundation for a sports program, Schum writes. During most of that time, Binghamton had no athletic facilities of its own.

From 1960-2000, the athletics program stabilized and grew more complex.

The third period begins with 2000, when the mascot switched from the Colonials to the Bearcats. It’s also Binghamton’s Division I era, with a new set of issues and a new philosophy about athletics.

Schum said the crowning moment for Binghamton athletics was the opening of a $33.1 million state-of-the-art field house in 2004. “The Events Center cemented in the public’s view that this is here to stay,” he said

He also attributes much of the University’s recent athletic success to President Lois B. DeFleur. “She’s changed the entire culture of the University,” Schum said. 

As Schum worked on the book, two major storylines emerged: one focused on financial issues and the other on the role of tenured faculty in the Athletics Department.

During much of his career, Schum said, he taught skill classes in addition to coaching. He and his colleagues also served on committees along with faculty members from other academic units on campus.

“A student would have a coach from the intercollegiate team teaching his specialty,” Schum said. “I once had a student in my class on a Monday, and on Saturday he played a full 90 minutes. He had never even seen a soccer game. So sometimes the two activities supported each other.”

Schum notes that many former Binghamton athletes remain successful in their sports at the senior level. Others say that what they picked up about winning, losing and hard work has stuck with them.

“In various ways, a lot of life lessons were learned, not only by the athletes, but by all concerned,” Schum said.


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Last Updated: 10/14/08