$28 million LSU locker room renovation sparks heated debate

Published: Jul. 24, 2019 at 7:12 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The LSU Athletic Department cut the ribbon on its newly renovated locker room for the LSU football players.

The locker room has spurred debate and hot takes across social media.

The $28 million dollar renovation was paid for by the Tiger Athletic Foundation.

“There’s no student money, no academic money, no tuition or fees, or state dollars used in the renovation of the football operations center, which includes the locker room,” said Kristine Sanders, interim vice president of communications at LSU. “That’s private donations done through the Tiger Athletic Foundation.”

The locker room includes nap pods and a new “performance nutrition center” for athletes to recover quickly. According to the university, other programs have sleep rooms for their football programs and LSU wanted to replicate this by including nap pods for players to use.

More: Tigers wowed by new locker room

The LSU community took to Twitter after a video was released of the locker rooms. Users were upset at the current state of the rest of campus, including a failing Middleton Library.

Water leaking into the library forced faculty to move certain books and important government documents to an upstairs location. Leaders of the university say they’ve been working to fix the problem for some time now.

“We’re very aware of the needs of the library,” Sanders said. “The library is currently undergoing a $350,000 renovation to the first floor that will definitely spruce up and improve the first floor.”

More: Students, administrators dealing with water issues at LSU’s Middleton Library

One user called it a “shame” that students have to fight to fund TOPS so often, when $28 million could definitely help. In April, Governor John Bel Edwards announced they expect TOPS to be fully funded this year, and pleaded for high school students to remain in Louisiana after they graduate.

In a reply, Rachel Campbell says that kind of money could go toward installing braille plates, among other things, to help students with disabilities.

One person expressed that one day the new LSU locker room would make a great example in a player pay lawsuit.

Former LSU superstar Eric Reid summed it up, saying the renovations are “too much.”

“There are folks who could use a scholarship more than our guys need a tv in their locker,” Reid tweeted. "Those who know me know the amount of love I have for LSU. This is too much though...”

An outspoken professor at the university, Robert Mann, says if it weren’t for the money out of his own wallet, he wouldn’t even have a vacuum to clean his office.

“Meanwhile, across campus, I vacuum my faculty office with a Dust Devil I bought at Walmart,” he tweeted.

In a now-deleted response, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow replied to Mann: “Why, professor, do you feel entitled to the fruits of our labor?”

On Friday, July 19 at the ribbon cutting for the facility, LSU President F. King Alexander said the school’s priority remains on academics.

“We want to win Heisman trophies and Butkes awards, but we also want to win Nobel Prizes and that’s what great public universities do,” Alexander said. “They do as many things possible and they do them the best they possibly can and that’s what we’re striving to achieve for every student athlete and striving to achieve for every student on this great university’s campus.”

He also listed a number of projects that are improving the academic experience at LSU.

"The Huey P. Long renovation of the old field house, $23 million in renovations,” he said. “The renovation of the art studio, $13 million in the art studio renovation. Memorial Tower, $5 million addition to the Memorial Tower right in the heart of campus. Stevenson Veterinary Medicine Clinic, $5 million additionally.”

The capital campaign, Fierce for the Future, was announced at the start of the summer. The goal was set at $1.5 billion; as of the week of July 22, the university is approximately halfway to its goal. Fundraising began in 2016.

With the news that it’s halfway to the goal, an official with LSU said the athletic department no longer out-raises the academic side of the school. Previously, LSU was the only SEC school whose athletic department received more donations than the rest of the school.

The Tigers open the new season in Death Valley against South Alabama on Aug. 31.

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