Orange at the Olympics

Dear Orange Friends:

The 21st century emphasis at Syracuse University is on connectivity. A fast-changing world brings us closer together all the time. How we respond is the measure of how we will succeed—on campus, in the larger community and around the globe.

With the opening ceremonies now underway, it is an exciting testament to those aspirations to see how Syracuse University is represented—both on and off the playing fields—at the athletic pinnacle of a connected world: the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, host to the XXXI Olympiad.

I note with pride that more than two dozen students from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and the Whitman School of Management will gain highly valuable experience as interns at the games. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. They will help to bring these games to the world.

Today, when digital communication allows us to know instantly who runs fastest or jumps highest, the Olympics are a greater focal point than ever. Too often overlooked is the Olympic creed, offered more than a century ago by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the games: “Not the triumph, but the struggle.”

That is where I take greatest pride in our graduates and students. The true Olympic ideal is epitomized not by medals, but in the absolute commitment required simply to compete at Rio.

In that ethic is passion and self-discipline—the paramount qualities in life and education.

Herman Frazier, our senior deputy director of athletics, lived out that truth. He was a world-class sprinter at 400 meters. He earned gold and bronze medals for Team USA at the 1976 games in Montreal. He was a favorite in his event for the Moscow games in 1980.

The Americans boycotted that Olympiad. President Jimmy Carter ordered our athletes to stay home because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That decision causes Herm to offer this lasting advice to all Olympic participants: Savor every moment.

Nine former or current Orange athletes and coaches are representing their respective home nations in Rio. Carmelo Anthony will reunite on the basketball court with Jim Boeheim and Mike Hopkins, Syracuse coaches assisting Team USA men’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Natalie Mastracci, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, will again row for Canada’s women’s eight.

Michael Gbinije, who became an Orange legend by leading our men’s team to the Final Four, will compete for the Nigerian men’s basketball team. He will be joined on Nigeria’s Olympic squad by our alumna Uhunoma Osazuwa, a heptathlete, who also participated in the 2012 games.

Last fall, Alyssa Manley led our Syracuse field hockey team to a national championship. Now she embarks on a quest for an Olympic medal with Team USA. Katie Zaferes, a two-time All-American at Syracuse, will represent Team USA in the triathlon.

Track and field star Flings Owusu-Agyapong, a former All-American, will compete for Ghana in the 100-meter dash and 4 x 100 relay. She also receives this unforgettable honor: She will carry Ghana’s flag in the opening ceremony.

Thousands of athletes will march into the stadium. Only a handful, in the coming weeks, will earn medals. Yet Herm Frazier appreciates the essence of the ideal: The real triumph is earning a place in this outstanding competition.

Congratulations to all of them.


Kent Syverud
Chancellor Kent Syverud