Less than four months ago, then-recently fired Colorado coach Jon Embree told stories of bringing a desk from home and purchasing bottled water for his staff because of financial shortcomings.
But Wednesday night, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn and chancellor Phil DiStefano proposed to the athletics subcommittee (six of nine members) of the CU Board of Regents a plan to upgrade CU’s facilities to the tune of $170 million.
That would buy a lot of bottled water. Colorado said state policy does not allow the university to buy bottled water and that Embree didn't like any of his desk choices, but the fact is Embree noted on his way out the door that “CU officials want a first-class program without devoting first-class resources to building it.”
Perhaps now that focus has changed.
The kicker of Colorado’s three-phase project that would include renovations to the academic center at Folsom Field, the expansion of the Dal Ward Athletic Center, a new permanent indoor facility and renovations to the soccer and lacrosse field, is that Colorado is hoping to kickstart it with $50 million in private donations.
Yes, a school that has traditionally struggled to gain significant monetary support from boosters is now asking folks to pony up a sizeable amount of startup cash. The rest of the money will come from television contracts and future revenue from the Pac-12 Network as well as other fundraising efforts. No tuition, student fees or state funding will be used in the project.
Apparently, this has been in the works for more than a year, so it’s fair to assume Colorado is already on it’s way to raising the $50 million and this project could put the Buffaloes on par with the rest of the Pac-12.
Colorado had the worst facilities in the Big 12 and carried that over to the Pac-12. New coach Mike MacIntyre knows how to do a lot with very little, but if Colorado really wants to get out of the basement of college football and attract better talent, it needs to start devoting funds to the advancement of their athletic facilities.
This is a good start even if it means employees have to go without bottled water and new desks.