August 19, 2011
Southern Methodist raised more than a few eyebrows in 2008 when it decided to throw big-time dollars at coach June Jones on the heels of back-to-back 1-11 seasons, but clearly the investment is paying off: Three years later, the team is a legitimate contender in Conference USA, and fundraising has accelerated at a record-breaking pace three years in a row. Since athletic director Steve Orsini took the reins in 2006, annual giving to his department has increased by a whopping 82 percent.
Thursday, the Dallas Morning News brought us visual evidence of the fruits of that labor: A newly renovated locker room at Ford Stadium that inspires visions of … well, maybe we should let SMU describe it:
The renovations include a new team meeting room with stadium-style seating as well as renovated positional meeting rooms. Changes to the locker room included the creation of a new team lounge, as well as new lockers, updated graphics and audio/visual equipment.
Walter Umphrey, a former SMU student and Beaumont attorney, donated $1 million to the efforts in honor of his former Mustang teammate Garry Weber. SMU alumnus and Austin businessman John Gorman and an anonymous Houston-based donor each gave $500,000 for the project, and the remaining balance was from various donors.
Presumably those "various donors" paid in denominations larger than $1 bills. Because I repeat, as stated in the headline, that despite having the misfortune of having a logo ripped off by a thousand establishments with names like "Crazyhorse Cabaret," "The Pink Pony" and "Mustang Sally's," and despite installing lighting and carpeting that evokes these establishments' singular motifs, and despite the program's previous reputation, SMU's renovated locker room is not a strip club.
It only kind of looks like one. And in 2011, hey, whatever works. It's dog-eat-dog out there. If making recruits feel like they just walked into "The Horseshoe" on a slow night gives the Mustangs a leg up, then more power to them.