Bloomington, Ind. Saying they are not in an athletic arms race but simply proposing overdue projects, Indiana University officials have rolled out a $55 million plan for improvement and construction of athletic department facilities.
The plan includes a $15 million basketball practice facility southeast of IU's Assembly Hall and $25 million to enclose the north end zone of Memorial Stadium for football offices, meeting rooms and a weight room.
The projects, which have been approved by the Board of Regents, will be funded by $45 million in bonds backed by athletic department revenue from media rights and $10 million in donations.
IU athletic director Rick Greenspan said the department has commitments for part of the $10 million in donations, but he declined to say how much.
Work will take about a year and a half for the basketball practice facility and almost 21â2 years for improving Memorial Stadium.
"Our athletic facilities are probably the worst in the Big Ten," IU president Adam Herbert told the trustees. "It's my view that we simply must correct that fundamental deficiency."
School officials said they were conservative in their estimates for all parts of the financing.
"I think it's very important that this stands on its own two feet," trustee Thomas Reilly said of the project. "We have a lot of other important things to do at this university. We have a lot of other people who consider themselves as being shorted.
"The athletic program is one-and-a-half percent of the university's budget. You can't rob capital out of the general account to support a bond issue gone bad."
Trustee Patrick Shoulders noted the high number of reporters present for the sports facilities discussion, in the afternoon, compared to the morning session on 10-year goals for the entire university.
"It's the way our alumni keep connected to this university, and we have dropped out of the race for too long," Shoulders said. "We need to do this, and we need to do it last month."
The athletic department used some of its biggest stars to speak to the trustees - basketball coach Kelvin Sampson; football coach Terry Hoeppner, who recently had brain surgery; and retired men's soccer coach Jerry Yeagley, winner of six national titles.
Sampson said the men's and women's basketball teams have to share practice time at Assembly Hall. The proposed practice facility would have two courts and players would have around-the-clock access.
"This new facility will make a statement just like the Kelley School of Business (building) makes a statement," Sampson said.
Sampson recently received thumbs-up from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, an IU grad who said he was "very supportive" of Sampson.
Cuban and Sampson have been friends since the Mavericks acquired Eduardo Najera, a former player of Sampson's at Oklahoma, in 2000.
"Eddie always spoke so highly of (Sampson)," Cuban said. "Then when we brought Kelvin to some Mavs games, I got to talk to him. We became friends."