In Part 1 of this series, we argued that a program of UCLA's historical stature deserves first-class facilities, especially for the football team, given the primacy of football for an athletic department's bottom line. In Part 2, we demonstrated that investing money in the football program generally can improve the bottom line for the athletic department and even the university as a whole. We also demonstrated that schools can win by putting money into the program and failing to invest in the program pretty much guarantees a lack of success. This installment will look at some of the premier facilities around the country as well as some non-BCS level conferences. This is particularly relevant as we will soon be looking for a new head football coach. UCLA needs an elite coach and a top-notch AD, both of whom will rightfully insist on facilities upgrades. Dan Guerrero is the Tom Hansen of Pac-12 AD, presiding over an athletic department infected with resilient and institutional rot and a diseased culture of mediocrity and an ivory tower mentality. Bruins fans are sick and tired of Dan Guerrero and the Morgan's Center's insular culture and stuck-in-the-past mindset: it's time for wholesale regime change in Westwood. As Dexter Fishmore astutely pointed out:
The rot that infects the program is resilient and institutional. It grows and festers in an athletic department that's been unwilling to pay for top-notch facilities or the most sought-after coaches and that uses admissions standards as a spurious excuse for underachievement. The time has come for some high-level soul-searching.
In this post, we will examine some of the premier facilities throughout the country.
Commitment to football goes hand-in-hand with investments in football facilities. When Florida hired Urban Meyer, it really upgraded its facilities, starting with its Football Complex. The upgrades to the strength and conditioning facilities sound truly amazing:
The new weight room is the crowning jewel of the new facility. The first thing the strength and conditioning staff needed was more space. The old weight room had less than 10,000 square feet and after the renovation, it features close to 25,000 square feet at the staff’s disposal.
"We can get more quality work done in a more efficient time," said Marotti. "Now, instead of being smashed into a little area and waiting on things, we have more equipment, more space, and can position our staff in different places so the flow is one after another and they’re not wasting time."
The Gators’ new weight room includes an area of turf that is 50 yards long, which also allows for multiple teams to use the weight room at the same time.
Notre Dame has recently upgraded its facilities significantly. First, the Guglielmino Athletics Complex:
The 96,000-square-foot complex was designed and built by McShane Construction of Chicago. Interior design and banners were produced and ZeDesign of Dayton, Ohio. Groundbreaking took place on May 5, 2004.
The first floor of the Guglielmino Complex features the 25,000-square foot Haggar Fitness Center (gift of Ed and Patty Haggar, Joe and Isabell Haggar) with the latest state-of-the-art equipment that all student-athletes can use on a daily basis. The 8,300-square foot Loftus Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center (a gift of John and Julie Loftus) services all of Notre Dame's student-athletes. The athletic training facility is a state-of-the-art area with two new swim exercise pools - one of which includes a treadmill at the bottom. The facility also houses the athletic training staff and gives that department significant office space, in addition to increased area for rehabilitation.
There are additional details on the Haggar Fitness Center here. Notre Dame additionally recently upgraded its practice fields and has long had an indoor practice facility.
Texas boasts The Dr. Nasser Al-Rashid Strength Complex, which is 20,000 square feet and includes a 70-yard turf straightaway. In addition, Texas also renovated its football support facility, the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center, and built an indoor practice facility, and a student-athlete dining hall.
At Alabama, the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility houses a 20,000 square strength and conditioning center. In addition, Alabama has Bryant Hall, which includes an academic facility, dining hall, and residence hall. Alabama's practice fields include three grass fields, one turf field. and an indoor practice facility.
Nebraska's facilities are also among the nation's elite. The Osborne Athletic Complex includes football offices, meeting facilities and the football locker room. The Hawks Championship Center includes an indoor practice facility and a multipurpose area that can accommodate as many as 1,000. Nebraska also has a student life complex, three full-length outdoors practice fields, and a performance center including the weight room and athletic medicine center. Even though the facility was only four years old, after being drafted, Ndamukong Suh donated $2 million to further enhance the Nebraska strength and conditioning facility.
If that's not enough, Nebraska recently completed a massive renovation for its basketball and wrestling facility. Yes, that's right, this facility is for wresting and, of all things, Nebraska basketball and it's better than Acosta and Pauley, which house all of our teams. That's just one reason why the Pauley renovation is not up to standards. We're spending a ton of money for something that pales in comparison to what Nebraska built for basketball. Nebraska basketball.
Texas A & M has invested a tremendous amount in its facilities, including opening a football complex in 2003, a 6,500 square foot locker room, 5,500 square foot players' lounge, and a 28,000 square foot academic center. Texas A & M also has an indoor practice facility, two full-size grass fields, and a 23,000 square foot strength and conditioning facility.
Oklahoma State has made a tremendous commitment to facilities. Obviously, T. Boone Pickens plays a big part, but UCLA has plenty of wealthy and influential alumni (if we only had a real athletic director who could utilize these resources).
There is a new commitment to winning at Oklahoma State. And tangible brick and mortar proof of that commitment is now on display.
Oklahoma State officially entered a new era in the summer of 2009 with the completion of the historic west end zone project.
When the football staff and daily operations of the program made the move into the mammoth new facility, which spans more than 146,000 square feet on the field level alone, it put the exclamation mark on a five-year building period that saw the transformation of Lewis Field into the sparkling, 60,218-seat Boone Pickens Stadium.
Cowboy Football is now housed in what is unquestionably one of America's top facilities. And the glitter includes substance. Every detail that encompasses the daily life of a college football player has been included in the meticulous planning and execution of the west end zone project. From ventilated lockers to functional meeting rooms, to the sports medicine center and its various options of hydro-therapy, OSU student-athletes truly find themselves in a new world.
Pickens made major donations, but the school made real efforts to obtain funding from numerous sources through its Next Level Campaign, generating over $100 million from more than 2,500 donors. In addition to the stadium renovations and football facilities housed in the stadium, OSU also built a new training facility, including an indoor practice facility and outdoor grass and turf practice fields.
As mentioned in Part 2, NC State has built a fundraising machine and an impressive football operations center:
When it comes to football operations facilities, there is none in the country as fine as the Wendell H. Murphy Center. The 103,254-square-foot complex houses every aspect of Wolfpack football, from sports medicine, to equipment, to academics, to the Gunter / Blank Family Strength & Conditioning Center. As functional as it is aesthetically pleasing, the Murphy Center is definitely the Wolfpack's den.
The Murphy Center (known as "The Murph" to the Wolfpack players) is the largest operations facility in the country devoted solely to football.
First Floor: The heartbeat of the Murphy Center is on the bottom floor. The beautiful locker room stretches the length of the building on one side of the hall, boasting 114 custom wood lockers, bathrooms, showers, a stereo and TVs. The other side of the hall is home to the equipment room and the state-of-the-art sports medicine facility, which covers 6,000 square feet and includes an aquatics area with three pools.
The center also includes a 15,000 square foot strength and conditioning center.
West Virginia has a 22,000 square foot weight room, an 8.000 square foot academic center, and an indoor practice facility.
Michigan has a 38,000 square foot academic center, a new indoor practice facility to supplement its old indoor practice facility,
Tennessee has a 33,000 square foot student life center,the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, which houses football offices, the strength facility, training room, and an indoor practice facility. Tennessee's crown jewel is its football training facility, which will open in 2012:
The 145,000-square foot building includes an amphitheater-style team room, coaches offices, position meeting rooms, a dining hall, players' lounge, a 7,000-square foot locker room, a 22,000-square foot, multi-level weight room as well as a new training room and hydrotherapy area.
Minnesota opened a brand-new football stadium in 2009, even though the University of Minnesota is an urban university in a major city.
Similarly, Louisville opened Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 1998, again on a public university in an urban setting. For comparison's sake, Louisville is an urban public university with an endowment of $762 million and an enrollment of 15,000 (compared to UCLA's 27,000 undergraduates and $1.8 billion endowment). Louisville also recently opened an indoor practice facility. Louisville is an example of a smaller school with a less prestigious history that upgraded its program and its facilities, and even its conference, going from Conference USA to the Big East in 2005.
LSU has an all-in-one football facility as well, with four full-length outside fields and one full-size indoor field, as well as academics, strength and conditioning, meeting rooms, and a training room.
Among non-BCS teams, SMU spent $3 million renovating its locker room, and could soon be a Big East program. TCU, another non-BCS team invested heavily in its facilities. As noted by Jeff Caplan, TCU invested in its facilities and its product on the field, and as a result was invited to join the Big East, and eventually, the Big XII:
This time around, TCU's house is not built of straw or sticks to be easily cast aside. No, this house is now solid brick: sparkling facilities as good as any in America; a stadium undergoing a $143 million renovation that will be expandable up to 50,000; and a Rose Bowl pedigree.
For every argument that the Big 12 erred by excluding TCU after the death of the Southwest Conference, a better one can be made -- and TCU people make it -- that the exclusion finally kicked the university into gear.
Apathy was rooted out. Action, starting in 1997 with the vision of former athletic director Eric Hyman and then-provost William Koehler, still rules the day.
One of the key points of Caplan's argument is that TCU's commitment to improvement is demonstrated by its investment in facilities. In other words, it's not necessarily entirely a "build it and they will come" situation (although there are stories of recruits who makes decisions based on facilities, and that certainly part of the equation), but investment in premier facilities is just something that happens when a university commits fully to athletics generally and football particularly. Among TCU's facility upgrades, renovations to the football stadium, an athletic complex and academic enhancement center, and an indoor practice facility.
As we've shown before, football is crucial to the health of an athletic department and athletic departments can win and increase revenues by spending money on their football programs. In the next installment of this series we will look at other facilities in the Pac-12.
This is a multi-part series analyzing UCLA's facilities and the failure of the current regime to invest in facilities. Facilties Part 1 is an introductory post; Facilities Part 2 looks at how investments in football can pay off.