RICHMOND, Va. – Seeking to build on one of the most successful periods in the department’s 45-year history, VCU Athletics released its new five-year strategic plan, “VCU Rising: The Black & Gold Standard”, Wednesday.

"VCU Athletics has enjoyed unprecedented success this year in many areas. ‘VCU Rising: The Black & Gold Standard’ will help us continue to elevate our national brand and create sustainable success at an elite level nationally,” Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin said. “Our focus remains on our student-athletes who wear the VCU uniform every day and our plans to provide them, along with our coaches and staff, the ability to succeed and achieve."

The trip to the 2011 Final Four in men’s basketball was a galvanizing moment for VCU Athletics, and the national acclaim gained through that milestone showered attention on the entire university.

Since that time, the Rams have burst onto the national scene, and several sports are poised for sustainable achievement at an elite level nationally. This success has served to further enhance the university’s brand and heighten VCU’s national profile.

VCU’s strategic plan, “Quest for Distinction”, provides the framework for achieving the university’s vision of being a premier urban public research university focused on student success. That plan calls for pursuit of excellence across the university – including Athletics.

Correspondingly, “VCU Rising: The Black & Gold Standard” offers an aggressive strategic plan that outlines the requirements for achieving a vision of being recognized as a premier NCAA Division I athletic department. This plan incorporates strategies that enable VCU to effectively position itself within an extremely fluid Division I environment, all while supporting the university’s overarching goals.

“When we talk about elevating the national profile of Virginia Commonwealth University, we are talking about elevating it in all areas, and that certainly includes intercollegiate athletics,” VCU President Michael Rao said. “Athletics is an important window into a university for many people, and I am so proud that my colleagues in Athletics, led by Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin, are bringing such renown to VCU. The nation has taken note that in 2012-2013, the Rams had the highest combined winning percentage of any university in the state, the highest student-athlete GPA in university history, the two largest philanthropic gifts in VCU Athletics history, and the largest revenue generated in university history.

“This is only the beginning; this thoughtful strategic plan serves as the solid foundation upon which we will continue to build an athletics program that is strong, diverse, focused on excellence and a critical component of a rapidly rising national research university.”

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 of the future of VCU Athletics.

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