CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern University President Dr. Jairy C. Hunter announced at a town hall meeting on Wednesday that the board of trustees approved a Strategic Transformation Plan on February 2.
The plan is a 10-year development project designed to enhance key areas at the University and includes the addition of new athletic buildings as well as improvements to current facilities on campus.
"The enhancements to CSU's athletic facilities underscore the university's commitment to providing a competitive NCAA Division I athletic environment for our student-athletes," said Dr. Rick Brewer, vice president of student affairs and athletics.
"CSU's athletic administration, coaches and student-athletes are committed to advancing the university's mission and vision; these additions and improvements will encourage all members of the CSU Buccaneer family to pursue excellence on and off the fields of competition."
Director of Athletics Hank Small echoed those sentiments, noting that the improvements will help the Buccaneers in recruiting future student-athletes.
"The Department of Athletics and our student athletes are grateful to the Board of Trustees and President Hunter for the vision they have shown in the Ten Year Plan," said Small. "The immediate additions of the softball building and the athletic center will benefit all of our athletes and the future convocation center will show recruits that the University strongly supports our efforts in the Big South Conference and in Division I."
The new athletic center consisting of locker rooms for the football and men's and women's track & field programs is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in August of 2012. Last week, the University approved additional funding for renovations to current locker rooms in Buccaneer Field House as well as a press box facility for the softball program. This facility is expected to be completed in August of 2012 as well.
"I'm extremely excited about the upgrades to our softball facility," said head softball coach Shane Winkler. "The addition of our new press box and putting a plan in place to add lights is going to help improve our program in all areas. We already have a great playing surface and these upgrades will give us one of the top facilities in the Big South. The boost that we will see in recruiting by having a top-notch facility will put us in a position to compete for Big South Championships and NCAA appearances for many years to come. We've gotten great support for our program from our administration and from our fans and we are truly blessed to be a part of Buccaneer Athletics at such an exciting time for the entire department."
Phase two of the plan for athletics includes approximately 8,000-square feet space for football meeting rooms and office for the football coaching staff, while phase three will consist of approximately 5,000-square feet of space for a weight room. The University will also make renovations to the current Whitfield Stadium Center to include a student-athlete success room. Another part of the strategic plan includes lighting for the baseball, softball and football fields.
"Our team is excited to witness the progress of phase one of the new athletic center," said head football coach Jay Mills. "We look forward to moving to the new locker room facility this summer. We're also very excited to see phases two and three come to fruition in the future to benefit not only the football program but all athletic programs."
The University is also in discussion to build a 3,500-seat convocation center, which would include a basketball arena, to be started in 2016 and completed in 2018. The facility would serve as a multipurpose center with student recreation and wellness facilities and is expected to be the site for concerts, graduation and other campus-sponsored events.
""I am so thankful to our administration and the board of trustees for recognizing a huge need for not only our basketball programs but our University," said head women's basketball coach Julie Goodenough. "Recruits and their parents are excited about a Division I basketball experience in a Christian atmosphere in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Both teams have experienced much success in the "Buc Dome" because of the tremendous fan support from the CSU community. A new arena will obviously aid our recruiting efforts and will also give our players, as well as our fans, a home court to be proud of. I am ecstatic, humbled and thankful for this excited blessing."
As both teams have compiled impressive home records in recent history, head men's basketball coach Barclay Radebaugh agreed with Goodenough's thoughts on a new arena enhancing the fan experience.
"I'm excited about this important step the University is making," said Radebaugh. "It speaks to the University's commitment for continued growth in our basketball programs. We are proud of our home atmosphere and this will enhance our ability to continue recruiting top quality student-athletes. I've always felt that athletics is the front porch to our wonderful university. A new convocation center will allow our students and the community to see our commitment towards excellence. "