New USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly went on 620 WDAE’s Ronnie and TKras show this morning to talk all things USF and how his first few weeks on the job have been going. In the eight minute interview, Kelly made one thing perfectly clear: Getting the USF Football Center build is vastly more important than getting an on-campus stadium.
Here’s what Kelly had to say about the subject:
What I do know that’s been stressed, and can’t be stressed enough is that our first priority at least from a facility standpoint needs to be the USF Football Center that we need to build on campus. That’ll be so important to the continual rise of our program and give them the training space, the services space, the indoor practice facility. Things that they need to not only to improve in their own right but to be competitive with our peers and all that we aspire to be...If we as a community, and we as a fan base of USF Athletics, want to be next-level, we need to be next-level in facilities and that’s our next step.
You can hear the full interview here.
Kelly doesn’t downplay the desire for an on-campus stadium, but he recognizes that getting football out of the Lee Roy Selmon Center and into their own facility will not only help football, but will help the other sports that are currently housed inside the center.
But, it also has a trickle-down effect to our entire athletic department. We’ve outgrown the Lee Roy Selmon Center with the services that we need to provide our student-athletes, and to our donors and supporters. It’ll get them what they need to thrive and in turn we’ll find some re-purposing of the space to support all of our student-athletes from the other sports in addition give our overall athletic department services space they need to be competitive.
We’ve expressed multiple times that the need for the Football Center and more importantly, the Indoor Practice Facility, needs to come first before any OCS. USF is lagging behind in the facilities arms race in the AAC, and across the country.
Some fans are going to be mad about Kelly’s statements, but that doesn’t make it any less true about what this program really needs. Head coach Charlie Strong has also said that he needs something to show recruits and the IPF (and Football Center) is what is best for USF.
Former athletic director Mark Harlan said during the spring game in April that USF has raised about $9 million toward the indoor practice facility, and around $14-16 million will be needed to build just that part of the much larger $40 million project the school announced in November 2017.