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USF athletes to get $15-million facility

Published Sep. 2, 2005

The University of South Florida Board of Trustees on Thursday unanimously approved plans for a $15-million athletic facility and bond financing to pay for it.

The state-of-the-art facility is being designed for the football teamand other intercollegiate teams.

"It's something we have needed for a long time," athletic director Lee Roy Selmon said.

Trustee Lee Arnold supported the facility and the financing plan but questioned the proposed site, which would put the facility on the north side of the Sun Dome. (It initially was to be adjacent to the west end of the track and soccer facility.) Arnold voted for the plan after assurances that the site location is subject to change.

The university hopes donors will help pay for the facility, and it has secured about $3-million in private donations. But to get started on the project, USF will sell bonds, backing them with annual revenue from student fees and the sale of beverages on campus.

"It's good to have such a milestone for the university," said trustee Michael Griffin, president of the USF student body.

The 110,000--square-foot facility is scheduled to break ground July 1. The design/construction phase is listed as 12-14 months, meaning it would open in time for USF's football debut in Conference USA in the fall of 2003.

The facility will serve the softball, men's and women's soccer, tennis, cross-country and track and field teams and provide upgraded centers for sports medicine and academic support, but its biggest impact will be on football. The football coaches will have new offices to replace the trailers they have worked in since the program's inception, and the strength and conditioning room will be about four times larger than the one in the Sun Dome.

Meanwhile, the USF volleyball team announced it will host two of the nation's strongest programs, Florida and 2000 national champion Nebraska, in exhibition matches this weekend at the Corral. USF plays Nebraska at 4 p.m. today, and there are three matches Saturday: Nebraska vs. Florida at 10 a.m., South Florida vs. Florida at noon and a second match between Nebraska and Florida at 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call (813) 974-5740.

WRESTLING: The NCAA Tournament opened in Albany, N.Y., with one major upset in the early rounds, while all 10 wrestlers from defending champion Minnesota advanced.

At 184 pounds, Rowdy Lundegreen of Fullerton State caught Virginia Tech's Scott Justus in a headlock and threw him for a first-period takedown, put the top seed on his back in a cradle for a near fall and held on for the 14-7 upset.

Oklahoma led Minnesota 25.5-23.5 in the team standings.

BOWLING GREEN: The university will eliminate four men's sports to comply with a federal law designed to equalize the money colleges spend on men's and women's teams. Men's tennis, swimming and indoor and outdoor track and field will be dropped starting in the fall, the school said.

CENTRAL CONN. ST.: Budget cuts have forced the elimination of three varsity sports, men's swimming and men's and women's tennis.

LSU: The investigation into possible preferential treatment for athletes was sparked by a report from the head of the school's Academic Center for Athletes.

Chancellor Mark Emmert and university spokesman Gene Sands said Roger Grooters, executive director of the academic center, alerted university officials in January of possible wrongdoing, including reports that athletes were getting excessive help from tutors and that faculty members were being pressured into giving favorable grades to athletes.

MISSISSIPPI: Football coach David Cutcliffe was admitted to a hospital in Oxford with viral gastroenteritis and was expected to stay overnight.

PENN STATE: Coach Joe Paterno will suspend starting safety Yaacov Yisrael for the first five games of the season because of his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol in November.

_ Information from Times wires was used in this report.