VCU Shows Minnesota How to Build a Practice Facility
March 22, 2014
In the past we have brought up the inaccurate claims that were on Minnesota AD Norwood Teague’s bio, specifically around a new basketball practice facility at VCU. Teague came to the Twin Cities from VCU and was touted as a big time fundraiser. Many believed (and still do) that he had constructed a basketball practice facility in Richmond, but he had only suggested a facility be built for around $10 million with private funds. That amount quickly grew to an estimated $14.5 million.
Fast forward to earlier this month and finally real plans have been set in motion for the Rams basketball program. The plans now look quite a bit different than they did in 2011:
- The project’s estimated cost has risen to $25 million. VCU says a significant factor in the increase is that when new AD Ed McLaughlin arrived in 2012, he determined the current plans wouldn’t work from a Title IX perspective. A new, larger location that could better accommodate both the men and women was needed.
- Private funding wasn’t going to get the job done. The school announced they would reallocate student fees to help pay for the project. There has been clamoring from some students, but after another strong season (until last night’s loss) support for VCU basketball is very high.
- Per review of a draft of the Executive Committee’s minutes from earlier this month, VCU’s board has approved entering into a line of credit agreement to front the money needed for construction. This should enable the project to get started (shovels in the ground) this spring, with completion possible before the start of classes in fall 2015.
Last summer Norwood Teague announced his idea of a $190 million facilities plan for the University of Minnesota. We found the idea to be borderline absurd [See: Minnesota’s Facilities Plan Set Up For Failure – July 10, 2013] and still do. Things have been quiet since last summer, but we understand a “fundraising feasibility study” has been “wrapping up”.
Our take is simple: the basketball and football programs needed attention the moment Teague arrived and they still do. If enormous donors come through and $190 million is achieved, great. But such a pie-in-the-sky plan or “vision” isn’t helpful.
Minnesota should go after big wins with smaller costs, specifically a basketball practice facility and improvements to the football facilities. Time is of the essence and waiting on feasibility studies to ask for money from private donors isn’t the right move today.
Some administrators may need to take some heat for the betterment of the athletics department by pushing for funding sources like (a) reallocating outside revenues [i.e., Big Ten Network revenues; NCAA revenues], (b) reallocating existing student fees, or (c) increasing student fees. Possibilities like general University support or state and local government support should not be ruled out either.
VCU provides another example of the reality of how such plans often go – they change. A righteous stance of “we will only use private funds!” is yelled out at the onset, but then reality sets in and the rules and plans change.
There are ways to make progress on the basketball and football practice facilities now. Be realistic, but be aggressive.Sharing Options: