RUSTON – Louisiana Tech officials made a historic announcement Tuesday afternoon as Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau, Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde and alum Steve Davison unveiled the plans for the "Quest for Excellence" – a $20 million fundraising campaign geared towards the construction of a 90,000-plus square-foot multipurpose facility in the south end zone of Joe Aillet Stadium.
The announcement came during a lunchtime press conference held in the Jarrell Room of the Charles Wyly Athletic Center before a room full of Louisiana Tech coaches, administrators and fans. It signifies the University's commitment to putting a stronghold on its place as a top tier university in the state of Louisiana.
"The top research universities in the nation are complemented by outstanding athletics programs," Reneau said. "As one of the region's premier research institutions, Louisiana Tech recognizes the value of providing superior facilities and resources to future Tech student-athletes so that they have every opportunity to perform at the highest levels of intercollegiate competition.
"Quest for Excellence is a watershed event in the history of our athletics program and, through the private contributions of our friends and supporters, will put our University shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most progressive and respected programs in the nation."
The new facility will benefit all of Louisiana Tech's student-athletes as it will include a new state-of-the-art sports medicine facility, a new strength and conditioning complex and a new academic center.
Louisiana Tech already ranks among the state and conference leaders in student-athlete graduation rate and in Academic Progress Report rate, and the new academic center will further enhance and emphasize the University's stance on the classroom.
Additionally, the facility will include new coaches' offices and locker rooms for football, baseball, soccer, tennis, softball, golf and track and field. It will house a new administrative suite with offices and meeting areas for the University's athletic administrative staff, including athletics director, media relations, external affairs and business office.
"This project addresses many of the needs of our student-athletes, enhances recruiting and provides a source of pride for our alumni and fans," Van De Velde said. "It enhances the academic and athletic quality for every sport, generates revenue and addresses many of the equity goals outlined in our Tech 2020 strategic plan.
"Our vision is a quest for excellence and a desire, focus and commitment to be an institution that values academic and athletic excellence. This campaign will establish a foundation for our future as the premier research and athletic institution in northern Louisiana."
The new facility will also include new meeting rooms, a new auditorium that can be used for large classroom teaching on campus and team and department meetings, a Hall of Fame memorabilia area, a video room with state-of-the-art video capabilities, equipment room and a large premium seating club that will sit high above the south end zone.
Davison, who is serving as the chair of the Leadership Team for the project which also includes Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Community Trust Bank CEO Drake Mills, announced a number of private leadership gifts totaling more than $9 million as the entire project will be funded by private money.
The initial leadership gifts come from Dr. Guthrie Jarrell, Rick Shirley, Terry Bradshaw and members of the Davison family, including James, Todd, Steve and Jim. The Leadership Team has already identified a number of other donors who have vowed to make pledges to the project..
"As a former Louisiana Tech student-athlete and proud alum, I have been excited to see the progress that we've made since we joined the Western Athletic Conference almost a decade ago," Davison said. "However, we need to continue our growth both on and off the playing fields. This facility will elevate our University and athletics program to the next level.
"It's imperative that our fans and alumni help make this a reality. Our institution is on the cusp of becoming what every Tech fan has dreamed about. This facility is just the next step."
Since Louisiana Tech joined the WAC in 2001, its athletic programs have captured 25 team championships and dozens of individual titles.
The process began last fall when the University contracted with renowned sports architectural firm Populous (www.populous.com) to develop a master facility plan. As part of the partnership, Populous provided conceptual design and estimates regarding the new facility design, which focused on the needs of University students, student-athletes, fans and athletic staff.
Populous is a global design firm, which recently completed a buyout and separation from HOK Group of St. Louis, Mo., that specializes in comprehensive design services, including sports architecture.
The firm has created some of the most recognizable professional sports venues in the country, including Yankee Stadium, Busch Stadium, AT&T Park, Pepsi Center, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Reliant Stadium.
The company has also built a reputation in the collegiate world, partnering with universities such as Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington on new athletic facilities.
Although no definitive timetable has been set for the entire project, University officials say they hope to have adequate private support secured within the next 24 months.
The building will be the largest athletic facility project on the Tech campus since the construction of the Thomas Assembly Center in the late 1970s and early '80s. The 180,000-plus square-foot facility cost $15.5 million and has been home to the Bulldog and Lady Techster basketball teams and Lady Techster volleyball team since it opened in the fall of 1982.
Tech fans can view the renderings of the new facility, read more about the project and support the project through an investment gift by logging onto www.latechsports.com.
(Courtesy: Louisiana Tech Athletics Department)