New Longhorn locker room

Jack Welch On the Sidelines

Following up on last week’s article about the new multi-million dollar Longhorn locker room.  Were the replaced lockers old and decrepit?  Did the lockers really need to be replaced?   The answer is no.  The Longhorn locker room was a big time D-1 locker room (one of the best in the Big Twelve).  Then why throw it away and build new?

Obviously, money is not an object in rebuilding the Longhorn football program. According to the Austin American Statesman, the Horns are the nation’s richest athletic program. The former lockers were installed in 2011 and were hardly broke in. The reason for the new extravagant locker room is new head coach Tom Herman believes extravagant new lockers serve as a recruiting tool in attracting high school players to the Longhorn campus.    

Even in the elite college football world, where a team’s facilities are pretty much the best money can provide, the new Texas lockers are uncharted territory. The lockers feature lighted doors and a 43-inch monitor in lieu of the standard name plate.   

The cost of typical nice new D-1 lockers is normally between $3,500 and $4,000 each.  The new Longhorn lockers cost $8,700 each.   New Longhorns coach Tom Herman told his players he was going to take care of them and this was one way to deliver the promise.  The players are ecstatic.  

The locker room upgrade is part of a $10 million renovation of the Texas football facilities. My question is did Coach Herman make all this happen or did the administration decide to do these upgrades, which include lights on fields, renovated coaches offices, LED video boards throughout the stadium, a new sound system and a new weight facility?  Maybe it was a combination of both groups. 

Texas is not the only D-1 program doing upgrades to their facilities.  Fancy new locker rooms are the current trend in college football. In 2014, Texas A&M upgraded their facility.  Their facility includes a barbershop and flat-screen TVs in the mirrors. Clemson’s new football facility includes two bowling lanes, a laser tag area and a golf simulator.

Educational budget cuts are causing public schools to scrutinize every penny.  For many educators, it is hard to accept these facilities as needed educational tools.  I can sympathize with tax payers when they cringe at the thought of how their tax dollars are being utilized.  

Many of these upgrades are purchased from proceeds of athletic events and not budgeted funds though.  Fans pay for high dollar seats.  For teams to produce year after year, they must recruit the best players.  Having great facilities is a big factor in the recruiting process.

Thought for the week, “Modern science is fast-moving, and no laboratory can exist for long with a program based on old facilities. Innovation and renewal are required to keep a laboratory on the frontiers of science.”  Burton Richter

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