TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 05, 2006
INSIDER: Join the JU Sports Network for an online chat with Alan Verlander
 The JUSN Wednesday Chat will have JU Director of Athletics Alan Verlanders as its guest.
JU Director of Athletics Alan Verlander will take your questions on Wednesday's weekly JUSN chat, starting at 3 p.m. Feel free to post questions prior to Wednesday's chat as well.

Tampa: Will JU ever build on the football program to incorporate some level of scholarships? I watch them lose to teams that are able to draw talent...yet I know the JU football program brings more revenue than most or all other sports.
Director of Athletics: First, let me welcome everyone to the chat. We have some good questions that have been sent in and I will try to get to all of them in the next 20 minutes.

Let's gets the hard questions out of the way. Right now, we have no plans to move to scholarship football. Let me explain why.

The cost of 63 scholarships to fully fund a I-AA program would be around $2.5 million annually. To endow 63 scholarships would be somewhere north of $70 million.

On top of that, we would have to increase our women's sports budget by $2.5 million a year. Adding it all up, that's $5 million extra each year that we would need.

The University and athletic department are now financially sound, but not enough to infuse 5 million additional dollars in athletics each year.

Having been at a full-funded I-AA program, I like our level of football. To your statement of talent, I think we have great talent on our team.


Bobby (Florida): What's next up for renovation among JU's facilities? The new tennis courts are nice and the lights at soccer really add to the sport.
Director of Athletics: Bobby, thanks for the question. We are concentrating on two major facility improvements this year.

The first is a state-of-the-art practice facility and office complex that most of our sports will be able to take advantage of. With all of the rain and heat we have here, this would give us a great advantage because it would allow us to not miss any practice time.

The other major project is a football/soccer/track stadium. As you know, our football facility is not up to par with most in the Pioneer Football Leauge and I want to change that. Additionally, the stadium would be on both sides of the burn - sharing a press box. We also would put in permanent restrooms and concessions. I would also like to put in a state-of-the-art track surface with the success that our track program has achieved.

On both of these projects, I am currently working with a local architect to finalize plans on both of these facilities. The total cost of both of these is around $4 million.

We will also be announcing another major athletic facility construction project later this week.


Ralph (Jacksonville): Last year was a successful year by most anyone's account. How are you going to top winning four conference championships this year?
Director of Athletics: Ralph, that is also a great question and one that you should maybe ask our coaches!

Winning four conference titles last year was a great year by any standard, but we don't want to rest on our laurels.

With the new support and resources we are giving to our sports, the goal each year is to win a championship.

We are raising the bar here at JU, where mediocrity is no longer accepted.

I feel confident that many of our teams will compete for conference titles this year and even be successful in the NCAAs. After all, if we're going to compete, we might as well win - but do it with the utmost class and integrity.


Jane (Starke): I like the moving the basketball games downtown to the Arena. I think this is going to be great for the program. Is this going to be a long-term deal or just until you get an on-campus arena built?
Director of Athletics: Jane, I hope that you have bought your season tickets because they are selling very well!

After the NCAA Tournament that we hosted back in March, this was a goal of mine - to move our games downtown.

After all, we bear the name of this great city and we should have the program showcased in a first-class facility like Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

If we want to be a Division I basketball school, we need to play in a Division I facility. The Downtown facility rivals anyone in the country.

Right now, we have a three-year deal with the City. The dream of building an on-campus facility is still out there, but I felt like we had to do some things to infuse life into the program before we took on the task of raising the money and building an on-campus arena.

Cliff and Jill are both seeing a difference in recruiting. I am excited about the upcoming season and in our new Downtown home.


Willa (Ocala): With basketball games going back downtown, how is the school paying for the Arena? I know that when the games were moved back to Swisher it was due to money. Where is this new money coming from?
Director of Athletics: Willa, thanks for your question. I've got to run to a meeting, so this will be my last question.

We are in a fortunate situation now due to the fact that athletics is out in the community raising money.

You are right, before playing at the Coliseum was a major drain on the University. Now, with the influx of the money we've raised in athletics, we're able to do some things that have been missing for a long time.

Our external operations staff of Barry Milligan, Carter Henderson and Mea Darley, along with our JUAA Board, is making these kind of things possible.

I told the president that I did not want the University to feel the effects of this move. Our season ticket campaign is going well and I hope you will be able to come up from Ocala to watch some games this year. The entertainment piece to our games will be as good as any NBA venue you've been to.

Plus, I feel good about the direction that Cliff and Jill are taking our basketball programs.

Thanks again for the questions and I look forward to visiting and answering questions again. Go DOLPHINS!