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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Bridging the Gap

Chancellor J. Keith Motley and Vice Chancellor of Athletics Charlie Titus are two of the most influential and important men on campus, in addition to being former collegiate athletes. Therefore, it’s a good sign for the UMass Boston athletic programs that both leaders are proud of what the Beacons have been able to accomplish and are excited for the athletic future.

For any current Beacon athlete to understand why Motley’s and Titus’ views are so important, it’s key to remember their athletic background. Motley and Titus haven’t forgotten what it’s like to balance school, sports and a social life.

Basketball was a vehicle for both men to get into college, leading to success on and off the court. Motley played at Northeastern University under the legendary Jim Calhoun, now the head coach at the nationally-ranked University of Connecticut. The 6’8″ Motley led the Huskies in rebounding during the 1975-76 (6.4 rpg) and 1976-77 (7.8 rpg) seasons. Titus followed a stellar career at Boston Technical High School with 3 years at St. Michael’s (VT), culminating in a 1999 St. Michael’s Hall of Fame induction.

The Chancellor’s experience with Calhoun was so instrumental in his development that Motley asked the UConn head coach to be at his inauguration last semester. “The reason he was at my ceremony is that I wanted everyone to see how important athletics were in my development,” Motley said. “Someone saw basketball talent [in me], but along the way, we learned from each other.”

Motley now hopes to play the role of Calhoun to a younger generation. “My role as Chancellor is to support your ambitious and creative notions,” Motley said. “I look at the human qualities that people have, and try to listen.”

The Beacon athletic programs have several ambitious and creative student-athletes, and as a whole, have made both Motley and Titus extremely proud. “I’m most proud of the work done by our student-athletes in the classroom and in the community through community service,” Titus said, noting that the varsity athletic teams combined averaged a 2.8 GPA, right on par with the rest of the university.

In addition to those qualities, Motley noted that he was proud of the improvements the school has made in recruiting top talent and employing quality coaching. “I’m seeing a progression in talent towards excellence,” Motley said. “We have some tremendously talented individuals who have dedicated themselves to playing and coaching at this level.”

While both men are happy with the progress made by the athletic programs, they are aware of financial limitations that have to be considered. The school spends an average of $2.5 million on athletics, which at first glance appears to be more than enough. However, that money is spread to 18 varsity athletic teams, the intramural sports programs and recreational activities on campus, including the Beacon Fitness Center and the Sailing Program. By comparison, athletic giants like the University of Texas and Ohio State University spend over $100 million annually.

But the Beacons shouldn’t be embarrassed by the athletic budget, and have to understand that money is not the key factor to a successful athletic program. The most important thing, according to Titus, is student involvement. “Right now, our participation rate is about 30 percent,” the Vice Chancellor said, referring to the students involved in athletics, intramurals or recreational activities. “We hope to double that number in the coming years.”

Being involved with an athletic team is very valuable to any individual, as the experience helps build a sense of confidence and teaches skills that are useful in everyday life. However, some people question the validity and importance of athletics. The Chancellor will have none of that talk. “I don’t want to have to consistently revisit the relevance of athletics,” Motley said. “It’s very relevant to the student experience.”

While speaking about lessons taught through sports of value in the professional field, Motley cited skills like “leadership, camaraderie and teamwork, in addition to logistical, systematic and analytical thinking.” Those skills are all things that Motley and Titus learned throughout their careers and guide them today as they lead the generation of tomorrow.

Also, Motley said that former athletes are sometimes surprised by the success that they have thanks to their athletic backgrounds. “The results are sometimes shocking to the individual, but not to those of us who are in the athletic fraternity,” Motley said.

The “athletic fraternity” is an exclusive group, and it’s that exclusivity that makes being a collegiate athlete so important. “We are a special breed of people,” the Chancellor said. “We experience something that so many others want to experience.”

The Beacons of today are in a prime position for success. They are elite athletes playing collegiate sports at a rising athletic power, and, while doing so, are learning skills that will be useful years down the road. It’s enough to even make a Chancellor jealous.

“Don’t you guys see the way I look at you? With jealousy! You guys are despicable,” Motley jokingly said. “I’m watching you guys play sports, thinking, I remember when I could do all that!”

Motley and Titus were ripping down rebounds and running fast-breaks during their college years. While it’s great that the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor could probably dunk on most university leaders in the area, it’s even nicer to know that two leaders with athletic backgrounds are ushering in the next great era of Beacon athletics.