Construction on Baylor football's new on-campus home, the Highers Athletic Complex, is expected to begin later this spring.
March 29, 2007
Baylor University's five-year intercollegiate athletics capital campaign, "Victory with Integrity," has fueled the most successful two-year athletic development period in school history and continues on its way to achieving its stated five-year goal of producing $90 million in private support for the school's 18-sport NCAA Division I-A sports program.
All-told, the most ambitious capital campaign in the department's history has resulted in approved capital construction projects totaling more than $45 million, back-to-back record-setting fund-raising years for the Baylor Bear Foundation and significant growth in the department's endowment.
"As a result of generous support from Baylor alumni and friends, we have made extraordinary progress toward the Victory with Integrity campaign goals during the first two years," Director of Athletics Ian McCaw said. "While there is much to celebrate, we have a great deal yet to accomplish. It will require the unequivocal support of the entire Baylor family to build with integrity a winning athletics tradition in all sports."
Originally approved by the Baylor Board of Regents on Feb. 4, 2005, the "Victory with Integrity" campaign helped the Baylor Bear Foundation contribute a record $2.89 million to fund the scholarship costs of Baylor student-athletes during its most-recent fund-raising year. The department's endowment also enjoyed prosperity as it grew to a record of $21.75 million as of Jan. 31, 2007, an increase of more than $4.75 million since the campaign's inception.
The "Victory with Integrity" campaign continues to advance Baylor toward a successful future by addressing needs in three critical areas: capital, endowment and annual. All gifts pledged to Baylor athletics during the campaign period will be included in the overall goal with the majority of funds raised being utilized for capital projects outlined in the department's strategic plan, Above and Beyond, and to grow the athletic endowment.
In addition to the financial commitment made by the department's many benefactors, year two of Baylor's "Victory with Integrity" campaign saw: Baylor's men's and women's basketball programs move into their $8 million practice facility adjacent to the Ferrell Center--the Lt. Whetsel Jr. Basketball Practice Facility. The state-of-the-art facility features two separate full-size courts arranged side-by-side, a wall-mounted video camera to provide coaches more information to modify instruction, Grays Gym--a highly advanced strength and conditioning center, office suites for both the men's and the women's coaching staffs overlooking the practice courts and the Stone Reception Room. The Whetsel Practice Facility was dedicated on Sept. 8, 2006.
Phases one through four of the Willis Family Equestrian Center, the home of Baylor's newest athletic team--women's equestrian, was dedicated on Oct. 20, 2006. The lead gift for this project was provided by Baylor graduates Richard and Karen Willis of Colleyville, Texas. The first phase of the project includes a covered riding arena as well as an outdoor riding arena. The remaining two phases of the project will include a team barn which will include coaches offices, team locker and meeting rooms and a horse barn.
The Gale and Connie Galloway Suites at Floyd Casey Stadium underwent a complete renovation and restoration prior to the start of the 2006 football season.
Construction of the Lee and Elaine Harrington Recruiting Center at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Harrington Center is used to host recruits prior to home football games.
Approval of the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, a $34 million facility that will integrate the Baylor athletics department and football program into the campus environment for the first time in the modern era. The lead gift for the privately funded project and the largest single gift in Baylor's history is from the estate of Alwin O. Highers Jr. of Alexandria, La. A native Texan and a 1939 Baylor business graduate, Mr. Highers was well known as the owner of Alexandria's Dr Pepper Bottling Co. He also was a dedicated supporter of Baylor athletics and in particular its football program, until his death in 2003. He is survived by his beloved wife, Dorothy, who still resides in Alexandria.
The focal point of the Highers Athletics Complex will be the 96,300-square-foot Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, which will be built on University Parks Drive adjacent to Baylor's Mayborn Museum Complex and the university's other athletic facilities that are part of the Julie and Jim Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex on the Brazos River. A Baylor University graduate and generous supporter of Baylor, Bob R. Simpson is a co-founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of XTO Energy Inc. of Fort Worth. During his tenure, XTO Energy has become the second largest natural gas producer in Texas and the eighth largest in the nation. A Texas native and youngest of four brothers, Mr. Simpson grew up on a Cisco ranch and was salutatorian of his high school graduating class. He attended Baylor University for his entire collegiate experience, earning a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, with magna cum laude honors, in 1970 and his MBA in 1971.
Other capital building projects on the department's drawing board (listed in alphabetical order) include an indoor tennis and multipurpose facility and an on-campus track facility.
With a school-record 13 of its 18 teams participating in postseason play, eight finishing the year ranked among the nation's top 20 and its student-athletes continuing to excel in the classroom, Baylor's athletic department continued to thrive both academically and athletically during the 2005-06 academic year. Baylor recorded its second-highest finish ever in the NACDA Directors' Cup standings with its 32nd-place ranking nationally, which also placed it fifth among Big 12 institutions.
In the first year of the VWI campaign, Baylor enjoyed its best finish ever in the Directors' Cup with a 25th-place ranking and coupled with its 2005-06 showing, Baylor finished among the nation's top 35 athletic programs in consecutive years for the first time in school history.