Capital outlay to fund Department of Athletics renovations


Photo by: Jeffery Miller

There are several ongoing and upcoming projects for Nicholls State University’s Department of Athletics, which supplements University funding with state funding through the capital outlay bill for larger projects.

Didier field is currently undergoing renovations, which will include a new ADA-accessible press box, concession area, entry way and lighting upgrades. Athletic Director Rob Bernardi said it was time for renovations.

“Our facilities are dreadfully old,” Bernardi said. “The baseball field has been there, literally untouched since 1980.”

Athletics, while it is part of the University in the same way any academic department is part of the university, raises almost 60 percent of its budget on its own. Nicholls provides around $2 million of the $6 million athletic budget. The department supplements their budget with revenue from ticket sales, sponsors, private donations and concessions. The football team also receives revenue from playing away against non-conference teams.

“We are pretty aggressive about trying to meet our own budget needs and not relying on the University,” Bernardi said.

Bernardi said Nicholls would like to be playing at home against teams in the Southland Conference, however they take advantage of the non-conference season to travel and play for revenue.

When the football team traveled to the University of Louisiana at Monroe last week, they received $275,000 and will be paid $450,000 to play at the University of Colorado next weekend.

Assistant Vice President for Facilities Mike Davis said capital outlay projects like the upgrades to Didier Field are usually funded through by the state’s capital outlay bill, House Bill 2.

“Two years ago, there wouldn’t have been much to talk about because athletics had not been getting any money to do any improvements,” Davis said. “They were just very fortunate to get some funding for it this time.”

The Didier Field renovation is a roughly $2 million project, and all of it, with the exception of $100,000, came from state funding.

Davis said there is another plan already in architects’ hands for the construction of a new field house for baseball that will include new locker rooms, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and training rooms. Renovations to Barker and Chabert Halls are also scheduled.

Nicholls submits a capital outlay request each year to the state, which the board of regents and eventually the legislature review to decide which projects to fund.

Davis said sometimes it is difficult for the public to understand how the state can afford to start new projects if there is a funding problem for higher education.

“We still have to keep the physical plant running over here, that’s why you see us building a new building or a $7 million dollar renovation to Talbot Hall, even though there are funding issues in higher education. You’ve got to be able to keep these facilities modernized and able to provide for today’s students. If not, you just as soon close,” Davis said.

“One of the elements in growing the University is to have a really competitive athletic program,” Bernardi said.

Bernardi said a key factor in drawing students to the University is to have good facilities that draw students to the athletic program.

Davis said in the last few years the University has received capital outlay money for upgrades to athletics, but it also has received funds for the Talbot Hall renovation and the culinary building construction.

“There’s many, many requests on that list of which these athletic projects are just some of what’s on that list,” Davis said. “Of course, whichever projects they decide to fund, we’re very happy to get the money to be able to proceed to do it.”