By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Northwestern State Athletics plans to announce today a $1.5 million gift, the largest by far in the department’s history, by alumnus David D. Morgan and his wife Sherry.
The funds will be used in construction of a sprawling strength and conditioning facility, which will be constructed on the back end of the Athletic Fieldhouse. It is expected to include a new 11,600 square foot weight room with space for more than 100 student-athletes, a 25-foot artificial turf pad, a new nutrition center, a student-athlete lounge area and offices for the strength staff.
The second phase of the project will convert the current weight room into a high-tech rehabilitation center along with other sports medicine upgrades.
The third phase will be the renovation of the current “Eugene Christmas Training Room,” according to NSU’s athletic website NSUDemons.com. The total cost of the project is estimated to run between $7-8 million, including equipment to be installed once construction and renovations are completed.
New athletics director Kevin Bostian broke the news of the major gift Thursday evening while speaking at the Morgan Extra Mile Scholarship Ceremony supporting students in the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority on campus.
“We’d like to thank David and Sherry for their transformative gift that will (lead to) the naming of the David and Sherry Morgan Health Performance Center,” said Bostian, drawing a 20-second ovation from the approximately 200 students and others gathered at the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.
The gift should greatly enhance the project’s viability in the eyes of legislators considering capital outlay requests from state universities. Northwestern president Dr. Marcus Jones has submitted the proposed performance center as one of his top priorities for campus improvements, hoping for as much as $5 million in state funding to help replace an outdated existing facility that opened in 1979.
The Natchitoches Regional Medical Center made a $500,000 pledge last August that was at the time, the largest amount attached to the project. NMRC is the official sports medicine provider for the nearly 400 NSU student-athletes.
The project plans were developed 3-4 years ago under former athletics director Greg Burke, who spearheaded securing several gifts that totaled approximately $1.2 million before departing in early February.
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