When I came to the University of Dallas, I’d read stories about it being voted the ugliest campus in America all the time. That extended to the athletic facilities, and while the rest of the campus has made steps to improve that perception, the athletic department is doing so as well.
The athletic department has had to deal with budget cuts for the past couple of years, but they’ve nonetheless taken steps to improve the athletic facilities, particularly this year.
Two things that stick out the most have been the ongoing field switch between the lacrosse and soccer programs and the new baseball clubhouse.
While the potential contract with Solar Soccer Club has yet to be signed, the old lacrosse field will become the new soccer field, and will be resurfaced and have lights installed. Meanwhile, both lacrosse teams moved down to the soccer field, and that area had protective netting installed on the backstop.
These two changes share one thing in common, that the funding for them has and will continue to come from an outside source.
The baseball booster club had to fundraise in order to build the new clubhouse. Additionally, the athletic department needs to do the potential deal with Solar in order to install lights on the soccer field, as well as any other potential improvements.
I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the athletic department has found ways to improve its facilities despite the budget cuts. Obviously, while the budget cuts remain, this is probably the only way to improve the facilities, but it’s important that this continues.
It’s no secret that the facilities at UD aren’t up to the standard of many of its Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) competitors. Southwestern University, Colorado College and Trinity University come to mind as programs that have superior athletic facilities.
This shouldn’t affect on-field performance, but often times it does. There are many factors that prevent a particular athletic department from being able to upgrade facilities. It should be noted that Colorado College, for instance, has two Division I teams that likely generate more revenue than any Division III team.
However, any college coach will tell you that facilities are a huge selling point for recruits. Whenever I’ve talked to a coach about a facility upgrade, they always point out that it will be a big recruiting tool.
In Texas, sports at all levels are so popular that many high schools have superior athletic facilities in comparison to UD. Of course, it stands to reason that these high schools simply have more money devoted to their athletics than UD, since UD coaches often leave for higher-paying high school jobs.
The athletic department deserves a lot of credit for continuing to find ways to upgrade their facilities, however. Not only do the facilities help with recruiting, but they make the lives of current student-athletes a little easier.
I applaud the athletic department for continuing to grow in small ways despite the budget cuts. When I came to UD, making athletics a greater priority was said to be one of the university’s goals. While sometimes it feels like they haven’t, the school has certainly accomplished that goal. Now, it’s important that it continues in this pursuit.