Reprinted here in its entirety.
Jacksonville State University prepared the way for a new dormitory and a
possible expansion of its football stadium Monday.
But some school faculty wanted reassurances the project won't take money away
The university's move comes after the board of trustees received a report
outlining what it would take to upgrade the school's football program to the
Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I.
The report suggests such an upgrade can happen, but not without a new
marketing push and more money coming into the program.
The renovations, while not related to the move to FBS per se, are part of a
big-picture plan to increase enrollment and to market sports better at the
The plan is to build 400 dorm rooms under three floors of "premiere" seating
at the JSU football stadium.
The JSU board of trustees met Monday and approved a motion by board member
and Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. that will pave the way for the expansion.
The approved motion:
• Directs the architect for the project to get ready to accept bids for it by
the board's July meeting.
• Creates a "facilities campaign board," which would raise money for new
• Adds two staff members to promote ticket sales and marketing of JSU sports.
• Asks for the creation of a marketing budget for the athletics department.
Board member Ronnie Smith, who supported Folsom's motion, said the board
needs to outline how it will pay for the stadium project.
Both projects will be paid for with a bond issue; but they differ in how they
will be repaid, University President Bill Meehan said.
Student rentals will pay for the dormitory project, which is estimated to
cost $19.7 million, Meehan said.
Meehan said the $17.5 million stadium improvement project will require the
university to raise more money, however.
"This project should be supported as a stand-alone project," Smith said,
adding later that the board had not made the decision to renovate the stadium.
Becky Turner, vice president of academic and student affairs, said it will be
hard for the faculty to support renovating the stadium if it means cutting
"We have huge needs for faculty and staff and support services for all
students, so our support for a project like this is limited, in that we don't
believe that any of our resources could be devoted (to it)," Turner said. "If
the project can pay for itself, I think our support could be mustered."
Meehan said the board's actions Monday are aimed at doing that.
He said the board will try to pay for the project through fundraising and
sales of premium seating and tickets.
"(The) dormitory we can do either way," Meehan said.
Athletic Director Jim Fuller questioned the fundraising angle of the project.
When asked to comment on the report about upgrading the school's football
program, Fuller said he still had unanswered questions about how the school
would pay for expansions.
He noted the university is in the middle of a capital campaign to raise $25
million. As of Monday, the campaign had raised $19.6 million.
"I think I caught the message of we needed to start today with an athletic
campaign," Fuller said. "Well, we can't do it today, because we have an ongoing
About Dan Whisenhunt
Dan Whisenhunt covers K-12 schools and higher education for The Star.
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