RICHMOND, Va. – On the heels of one of the most successful eras in its history, VCU Athletics is aiming higher. On Thursday, Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin announced VCU's roadmap to that success through a new five-year strategic plan called "VCU Athletics Rising Higher: Next Steps".

VCU Athletics, in cooperation with Collegiate Consulting, began a department study earlier this year to identify new aspirational benchmarks for its athletics programs. Collegiate Consulting also gathered benchmark data in key areas from a cross section of athletic departments and specific sport programs from across the nation. 

"Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have accomplished amazing feats in the last five years, including building a strong culture of winning," said Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin. "This new five-year plan will guide us to even greater levels of achievement on the national level. The process proved critical in helping us to map out our path to continued development and future success." 

"VCU Athletics Rising Higher" will focus on five primary themes: Competitiveness, Academic Excellence, Student-Athlete Experience, Community and Fiscal Sustainability, as VCU Athletics seeks to build on its standing as a premier NCAA Division I institution.  

This strategic plan follows "VCU Rising: The Black and Gold Standard", which was released in 2013 and guided the department through a five-year stretch which included record-breaking academic achievement, numerous facility improvements - including a $25 million basketball practice facility – as well as 20 Atlantic 10 Conference championships and 31 NCAA appearances by VCU teams and student-athletes.

"VCU Athletics Rising Higher" seeks to build on those achievements across the board and aligns with the mission of VCU's Institutional Strategic Review. VCU Athletics' eight core values established in the 2013 plan will provide the foundation for "VCU Athletics Rising Higher".

Inherent to athletics prominence in Division I is a continued focus on the academic success and the well-being of VCU's student-athletes. Ensuring an inclusive climate and promoting campus and community partnerships are also cornerstones for the future of VCU Athletics.

The five themes in the plan delineate the priorities, steps and resources required for VCU Athletics to succeed in the classroom and competitively, while engaging the university and Richmond communities.