Fundraising strong as CU-Boulder moves forward with athletics facilities

AD George tells Board of Regents groundbreaking on target for April

Fundraising strong as CU-Boulder moves forward with athletics facilities

The University of Colorado Boulder is making progress on its $143 million facilities project, having raised more than half of the $50 million required to begin construction, which is planned for April.

CU-Boulder Athletic Director Rick George updated the Board of Regents’ Intercollegiate Athletic Committee on the effort as part of his reports during the board’s meeting Wednesday at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. (The board meeting continues today; CU Connections will post updates.)

The plan received unanimous support from the Board of Regents at its December meeting. It will be funded by private fundraising, bonding, corporate partners and new revenue streams.

The plan includes a multipurpose, indoor practice facility for football, track and other sports, as well as improvements to Folsom Field including a new club level and rooftop terrace that would generate revenue via non-game-day events.

George’s presentation to the board included artists’ renderings of the proposed facilities, including football locker room, offices at Folsom Field with a view of the Flatirons, and a multi-sport indoor practice field.

David Clough, Faculty Athletics Representative at CU-Boulder, told the board that less flashy details also will contribute to a better overall campus experience for student-athletes.

“The primary thing I see is that it improves their overall quality of life on campus. Some of this is not so spectacular,” Clough said. “We have a lot of our athletes that work out and practice and go to class. They do not have convenient access to shower out. … You might say, so what? If you think about it, that’s a mindset that will adversely affect their academic performance. This is really going to assist and bring the facilities closer to where their classes are and it’s going to have a marvelous effect.”

The project is set for completion in August 2015, George said.

Some of the proposed improvements at Folsom Field have the potential to boost the needed revenue George spoke of at the December meeting; the $62.8 million athletics budget for 2014-15 he referenced in his Wednesday presentation to the board indicated revenue of $1.2 million less than that. He said he expects that shortfall to be made up before budgets are made final this summer.

“We have got to find ways at CU to generate more revenue,” George told the board on Wednesday. “We have to think of nontraditional ways of generating revenue.” He said unsold seats at football games last year – 13,000 to 14,000 – contributed a significant hit to potential revenue.

On the student-athlete side, George pointed to a student-athlete GPA of 2.898 during the fall semester, representing the best fall semester GPA on record, and the second-highest semester GPA on record. The APR (Academic Progress Rate) for 2012-13 will be announced this June.

“Credit where credit’s due – we have made remarkable progress in men’s basketball and football,” Clough said, in terms of APR. “We are light years away from (NCAA) penalty status in those sports. The news (in the upcoming report) is good.”

Said George, “I think we’re recruiting the right student-athlete.”

George on Wednesday also presented a strategic plan for CU-Boulder athletics, a complex, 15-year  outline  that specifies several goals, many of which he called “aspirational, but attainable,” and aimed at encouraging accountability in the department while pursuing sports championships.

“We want to compete in at least one Pac-12 football championship by 2016,” George said. “It’s aspirational, but we believe it’s attainable.” He also noted a goal of an 80 percent graduation rate for student-athletes by 2017.

Development of the plan’s 104 metrics was led by Jeff Luftig, associate vice chancellor for process innovation, who helms CU-Boulder’s Office for Performance Improvement.

The committee also heard from the UCCS’ Brian Burnett , senior executive vice chancellor for administration and finance, and Steve Kirkham, athletic director, about programs and facilities at the campus. Burnett pointed to the evolution of facilities for basketball, soccer and softball, and noted the need for a new multi-purpose facility for soccer and cross-country, with a projected first phase cost of $20 million to $35 million. UCCS is working on details of plan and will update the committee at a future meeting.

In other business on Wednesday, the first of the Board of Regents’ two-day meeting at UCCS:

During her report to the board, Melinda Piket-May, chair of Faculty Council, stressed the popular desire for an expansion of the university’s dependent tuition benefit.

“Ideally what they would like is to be able to use their tuition benefit on any CU campus, regardless of where they work,” said Piket-May, calling the benefit a crucial tool for recruitment and retention. “I know that’s a long ways off, but it’s something we’d like to see the administration strive for.”

Members of the board and administrators said they are happy to work with faculty and staff on studying details and feasibility for such changes to the benefit.