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USF athletes to get $15-million facility

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: Iowa State's Cael Sanderson pinned two opponents to remain on track for a perfect college record as the NCAA Tournament opened in Albany, N.Y. Oklahoma led the overall standings with 37.5 points, followed by defending champion Minnesota with 35.5.

SWIMMING: Georgia's Maritza Correia, a six-time Florida champion at Tampa Bay Tech High, set an American and NCAA record with a time of 21.69 in the 50 freestyle, and she helped the 200 freestyle relay team to a record time at the NCAA Women's Championships in Austin, Texas. Auburn led team standings with 153 points.

BOWLING GREEN: The university will eliminate men's tennis, swimming and indoor and outdoor track and field to comply with a federal law designed to equalize the money colleges spend on men's and women's teams.

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 hospitalized 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.