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Regents Approve Sports Facilities

San Angelo--Sam Houston State University's board of regents approved preliminary plans for $30 million in construction projects this week including two that will have a major impact on both spectator and participant sports activities.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents held their regular quarterly meeting on the campus of Angelo State University. James F. Gaertner, SHSU president, presented recommendations for the board's approval.

Also approved were increases in graduate tuition to $11 per graduate credit hour next fall, rising to a total of $55 per graduate credit hour or the state maximum, whichever is lower, by the fall of 2007.

With Sam Houston State University reaching a higher level of graduate program activity, including an increased number of doctoral program offerings, there is a need to better serve the university's graduate students, Gaertner told the regents.

To accomplish this, the position of director of graduate studies has been expanded to the position of dean of graduate studies and associate vice president for academic affairs, with enhanced office functions.

The graduate tuition increases will be used to fund the expanded office and to enhance the graduate programs of the university, Gaertner said.

A medical services fee of $30 per long semester and $15 per summer semester was approved to cover increasing operational costs such as facility maintenance, medications, up-to-date equipment, and health education.

The new medical services fee will free student service fees now used for the Health Center for other uses.

The largest of the four construction projects is an $18 million 60,000 square feet science facility that was first planned as an addition to the present Farrington Building, but which is now planned for the corner of Ave. J and Bowers Boulevard.

The new facility will house the chemistry and forensic science programs, while physics will remain in the Farrington Building. Construction is expected to begin in about February 2004 with completion in late spring of 2005.

Under the approved plans prepared by Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects, Inc. of Houston, the first floor of the Farrington Building will also be renovated. The second and third floor Farrington renovations will be deferred until funds become available.

The regents also approved preliminary plans prepared by F&S Partners of Dallas for the $6.7 million Recreational Sports Building to be attached to the present Health and Kinesiology Building.

"The construction of a new Recreational Sports building is one of the more exciting new facilities in the planning process for our campus in that it will impact so many students who are involved in intramurals and fitness activities," said Keith Jenkins, assistant dean of students. "It will create a whole new dynamic use of the existing facility let alone the new features."

The building will include a 10,000 square feet open area weight room complete with free weights, cardio, and circuit workout machines. Another feature of the new facility will be a heated pool. The existing outdoor swimming pool will be removed.

The pool will be designed so that lap swimming and aquatic programming can take place simultaneously. The lap pool will have four lanes with a length of 25 yards and a separate body of water will be used for programs such as water aerobics and innertube water polo.

The swimming facility will be covered but will be designed so that the sides can be removed during the summer months. Completing the design will be a sun deck and a separate covered area for socials.

Sam Houston State had an indoor pool for many years, located in the basement of the Lowman Student Center. However, it had continuous equipment breakdowns and was not popular because of the lack of outside exposure. That pool area was converted into a ballroom in the recent student center renovation.

The new Recreational Sports Building will also have a new climbing gym that includes a wall and boulder structure, similar to those which are extremely popular on other campuses, according to Jenkins.

Other amenities of the new building will include a room specifically set aside for growing club sports programs such as rugby and soccer, a 2,000 square feet multipurpose room used for wellness programming and lifetime enrichment classes, changing rooms to support the new swimming facility, and offices for the Department of Recreational Sports.

"Attaching the new facility to the existing Health and Kinesiology Building will offer a complete recreational facility for the student body and the entire university community," said Jenkins.

"In 1989 when the student body voted to establish a designated recreation fee, the construction of this type of facility was one of the most requested projects for student use," he said. "The reason being is that the most popular non academic student program on campus was experiencing phenomenal growth and overcrowding in the HKC. Under Dr. Gaertner's leadership, the dream is about to become a reality."

Construction is expected to begin in early 2004 with completion in about one year.

Approval of the preliminary plans drawn up by LAN/Leo A. Daly architects of Houston for the new $4 million baseball and softball facilities means that night games can be played at Sam Houston, which is expected to be a boost for both programs.

Additional features of the new complex to be built east of Bowers Stadium include offices for baseball and softball coaches, an indoor practice facility and weight room, dressing rooms, concessions stands, restrooms, and press box.

The preliminary plans call for seating for 1,000 for baseball and 400 for softball. Construction could begin in the late fall with completion prior to the 2005 baseball season.

The new baseball/softball complex represents an improvement in the facilities for both sports, according to Bobby Williams, SHSU athletic director.

The current baseball and softball fields are located away from the main campus. In addition to their lack of lighting, they have no dressing rooms and minimal press box, concession, and rest room facilities.

"The Sam Houston State athletic department would like to thank the board of regents, (regent) Jimmy Haley, and Dr. James Gaertner for all their hard work on this project," said Williams. "The new baseball and softball complex will have a tremendous effect on our entire program.

"Not only will it be a major shot in the arm for our recruiting for both sports," Williams said, "but it also will be a boost to intercollegiate athletics at Sam Houston State overall.

"From helping to generate more revenue through attendance at games to sparking more student spirit by allowing us to centralize our sports facilities and build student spirit on campus, the addition of the baseball and softball complex to our facilities will have far reaching results in our future."

Gaertner has announced that the new project will also be known as Holleman Field, the name of the present baseball field, in honor of long time SHSU administrator Dewitte Holleman.

The regents also awarded a construction contract to Stephens Construction Services of Texas City for the $1.4 million addition to the Teacher Education Center. The 7,100 square feet addition will provide space for a counseling clinic and offices for the university's new doctorate in counselor education.

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
May 9, 2003
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