The coaches want it. USF Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon would like to give it to them as soon as possible.
“They really deserve better,” Selmon said. “They’ve been patient, they haven’t complained about where they are. Deep down inside, I’d like to see them in a better place.”
“It” is the proposed Intercollegiate Athletic Facility, and the building took a step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday when Dr. Robert Daugherty and Joy McCann Daugherty committed $500,000 toward an Academic Enrichment Center in the proposed facility.
“As the former owner of a professional football team, Mrs. Daugherty has always been aware of the need for the Buccaneer players to plan for life after athletics,” Mr. Daugherty said. “Also, as a former college athlete, she knows personally of the pressures to focus on athletic performance. Therefore, she is committed to emphasizing and supporting academic performance by athletes.”
Robert Daugherty is the dean of the College of Medicine at USF, as well as the vice president of Health Sciences. Joy McCann Daugherty is the widow of former Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse. Mrs. Daugherty is the single biggest benefactor to USF, and together, the Daughertys contributed $1.3 million last year.
Even with the Daugherty’s donation, funding appears to be the main factor holding back the building’s go-ahead. Selmon said that private donations have reached $4 million, but hopes were that they would top $10 million from private gifts. USF is also awaiting approval for a bond before selecting a contractor to break ground on the project. Selmon estimated costs at approximately $15-18 million for the building and the size at around 110,000 square feet.
“I think everything is running pretty simultaneously,” Selmon said. “Studying who would be the best choice (to build it), the financial side – putting the bonding portfolio together – that’s all a simultaneous process going on now. Finalizing a site, raising money – that’s all going on now. We hope most all of that will be done between now and the end of the year.”
Still, Selmon stated that a proposal to open the building in concert with USF football’s entrance into Conference USA in the fall of 2003 as very aggressive. Estimates have the construction lasting 12-18 months after the contractors can break ground. The location of the building has been determined to be north of the Sun Dome.
“We have a vicinity, a centralized location on the north side of the Sun Dome that would include a parking lot,” Selmon said. “That’s a pretty big area. What we have is a central location. What we have to do is narrow down that to specifically where in that large footprint we end up putting it. Our goal is to be centralized. We think that’s the most centralized area for all of our student-athletes and administrative teams to be most effective working together.”
During the last few years, Selmon and his staff have examined numerous other schools to garnish some ideas for USF from their athletic facilities. Selmon cited Kansas State, Clemson and Houston as a few of the tours he has conducted. Houston opened its $29.1-million, 220,000-square-foot Athletics and Alumni Center in 1995, and it houses an indoor track and tennis courts, as well as an enclosed 120-yard AstroTurf practice football field. While Selmon stated that USF’s facility wouldn’t be that large, it would provide Bulls’ student-athletes with locker and equipment rooms in addition to the Academic Enrichment Center, a strength and conditioning area, enhanced sports medicine facilities and administrative offices.
“We had a firsthand look at how those facilities were put together and it was very beneficial,” Selmon said. “I think by doing that, we looked at sizes of spaces and how they were put together and coming up with some ideas that could help us with our decisions that would be workable for USF and its needs. You come away with some different perspectives. They feel they’re efficient for their needs, and they can be successful with them.
“You don’t have to be the biggest on the block, just be efficient. Have a space that’s functional and meets the needs of USF athletics.”
Selmon also emphasized how important he thought the building was for the success and growth of USF athletics.
“I think it will have a tremendous difference in the perception (of USF athletics),” Selmon said. “When the parents and student-athletes see the commitment that the university and the community have made to have an athletic-training facility, I think it sends a very strong message. I think it will enhance our image in our community and our league and our state and be greatly beneficial to all of our coaches in the recruiting wars.”