Athletics can expect boost from ASPIRE campaign
Director of Athletics Brad Edwards.
Director of Athletics Brad Edwards.
JU athletics stands to gain quite a boost from its share of the school’s $85 million ASPIRE capital campaign announced Friday.

Several sports will benefit from the more than $17 million being earmarked for facilities involving at least seven sports and a variety of support functions.

“We have aspirations to get better; this is our future,’’ JU president Dr. Kerry Romesburg said. “We aspire to greater heights.’’

President select Tim Cost noted that all 34 members of the school’s Board of Trustees have committed to invest in the campaign.

“We have reached the critical mass of trustee investment and they have committed $43.17 million,’’ he said. Cost will take over as President next year.

The athletics arm is only one of five pillars of the entire campaign which already has collected more than $43 million toward its goal. Scholarships and academics, the College of Health Sciences and enhancing campus and student life all are goals.

Four specific areas are to be addressed for athletics.

A $7.5 million basketball and volleyball practice facility; $4.2 million toward Phase I of a football and lacrosse facility; $5.7 million toward a JU Athletic Complex and $200,000 for a softball indoor-outdoor hitting facility all are on the radar.

“To borrow a pun, this will be a game changer,’’ Director of Athletics Brad Edwards said. “This will put us on par and beyond some of the schools we compete against.’’

While plans for some of the facilities, such as a new football/lacrosse stadium, have been on the drawing board for years, Edwards said current plans will succeed because of the organization of the campaign.

“Now it’s a part of an official campaign and we are actively seeking those dollars,’’ he said. “That’s not going to change. You always aspire to do other things, but what makes this different is it has the official backing of the institution to talk to donors; to solicit the support of the president and the Board and to go find those funds.’’

Edwards said it will be difficult to assess the amount of impact the movement might have on the school’s sports from recruiting to on the field performance.

“It’s immeasurable, but significant is a word that comes to mind,’’ he said. “You can relate athletes to almost any buyer. When they step in the store, they are always making observations as to where they are and comparing what they see to the other store they were just in. You want to make sure your product is as good or better as the product they just saw. That’s why facilities matter. They give a prospective student-athlete a sense of pride when they bring their families in, when they bring their high school coaches in or their friends. They want to feel good and proud about where they made that decision, where they live, where they compete in and you want places that are safe, state-of-the-art and enhance their ability to get better and develop.’’