Sensing weakness in Knoxville, Vanderbilt makes a play to become the preeminent football program in the state.
Vanderbilt announced a $300 million project Monday to improve football and basketball facilities and a new Vandy United Fund to raise money for athletics programs.
The Vandy United Fund already has $200 million committed with $100 million from the university along with $90 million from anonymous donors and another $10 million from John R. Ingram, a member of the Board of Trust and lead owner of MLS’ Nashville team.
Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said at a news conference that the Vandy United Fund represents the largest undertaking of its kind in Vanderbilt’s athletics history.
“This is a bold step,” he said, “but it’s also just the beginning of a longer journey.”
Athletic director Candice Lee said the initial work will focus on infrastructure for Vanderbilt’s athletes to improve their daily experience.
“There will be more things that come as a part of this broader scheme,” Lee said.
The first investment will be in football and basketball.
Football will get upgraded meeting rooms, offices, training room and expanded locker room and a full-length indoor practice field adjacent to the outdoor practice fields. Basketball will get dedicated practice courts for both the men’s and women’s teams, along with improvements to the weight room, locker rooms and offices.
I’m only being quasi-facetious. There’s little question which school is in better shape, financially speaking. It’s just that Vandy hasn’t been committed to football in a way to be relatively competitive.
No, I’m not predicting any SEC East titles in the near future, but it’s not like keeping up with Tennessee is that high a bar these days.