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Stepping up and into the Big East

“Why not USF?” Doug Woolard, USF athletics director, asked the Board of Trustees yesterday. “Why can’t we have the best athletic department in the Big East?”

That is what Woolard said to the BOT as he laid out the master plan Thursday for the future of USF’s athletic facilities. The plan, called the Athletic Land Use Plan, would first realign the “athletics district” in the southeast corner of campus. As it is now, the land allocated to Campus Recreation (such as the intramural fields) and the land used by athletics make a sort of checkerboard. The plan would reorganize the Campus Recreation land into more of a block and place it closer to the residence halls, and would group the athletics land together in the southeast corner of campus.

While lobbying for the plan, Woolard also laid out the Athletics Department’s overall plans for the future.

He showed the BOT slides of facilities at other schools nationwide.

“Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words,” Woolard said.

He then showed USF facilities in an attempt to demonstrate the need for renovations throughout the athletics district.

Woolard’s presentation included a hefty list of facilities he wants to build in the “athletic district” in the coming years, one of which is a new softball stadium.

“We have a perennially ranked softball team that plays in, really honestly, one of the poorest facilities in Division-I athletics,” Woolard said.

A new soccer stadium and a new practice field for soccer were also on the list.

“Our soccer field, which takes place inside the track, isn’t even the right width or length,” Woolard said.

A renovated Sun Dome arena was also on the list.

“The Sun Dome is a tired facility that needs renovation,” Woolard said.

A renovated baseball stadium, new men’s and women’s basketball practice facilities, a new football practice complex, a new tennis complex and a new artificial surface surrounded by a 400-meter track were also on the list.

The BOT conceptually approved the Athletic Land Use Plan, which gives the Athletics Department the go ahead to do internal feasibility analyses and begin fundraising.

Theoretically, costs will be enumerated in the feasibility analyses, as will the cost of facility maintenance. Following the construction of the new athletics training facility in 2003, the maintenance costs were higher than anticipated and a 58-cent increase in the flat athletic fee paid by students each semester was deemed necessary and passed by the BOT.

The fee came as a surprise to students, who thought the facility’s costs had already been covered.

The BOT also approved a site for the new and unprecedented Joint Military Science Leadership Center just east of the Physical Education Building (PED), between it and parking lot 15, Thursday.

The JMSLC is something that no other campus in the nation has.

“We’ll be looked at as a model for other universities,” USF President Judy Genshaft said.

Trustee Steve Burton closed out the meeting by talking about the SUPERKids program that he has been working on.

The program is an after-school program for at-risk children from kindergarten to second grade. They provide nutritious meals and teach the children their basics like reading after school each day. It is currently still a pilot program and is in place at three area elementary schools.

Burton thanked a large number of guests in attendance that had helped him with the project and had some of them gave short speeches about the program. Guests who spoke included State Attorney General Charlie Crist, State Senate President Designate Ken Pruitt, State Speaker of the House Designate Marco Rubio, and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Shelton Quarles.