WBU pushing forward with dorm, football and capital campaign

September 17, 2010

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University received a top rating from bonding agencies this week, pushing forward the plans for a 350-bed men’s dormitory to be built on the WBU campus.

Both Standard and Poors Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings gave Wayland an A- rating based on Wayland’s financial performance and stable outlook for future plans. With the ratings comes approval for a bond issue that will fund a new men’s dormitory. The 90,000 square-foot facility is a critical piece of the puzzle as Wayland plans to bring football to campus, beginning competition in the fall of 2012.

The construction of the new dorm will also usher in the next phase of Wayland’s ongoing capital campaign. Wayland administrators were quick to point out that capital campaign funds have no bearing on the dorm or football program, but the issues are related. Vice President of Enrollment Management Dr. Claude Lusk and his staff completed extensive research from which they outlined a plan to pay for the dorm and fund football through additional revenue, budgeting issues and the prospect of increased enrollment. Meanwhile the WBU development staff continues to raise funds for capital campaign projects, including the construction of a new Flores Bible Building and Mission Center.

The projects are connected in that the new dorm must be operational in order to raze the existing McDonald Hall on the southeast corner of campus where the new religion building will be constructed. To date, Wayland has raised through donations and pledges nearly $6.5 million of the estimated $11 million needed to construct the new religion building.

Plans call for construction on the new dorm to begin in March 2011 with a 14-month timeline. Administrators hope to have the building open for students by August 2012. With the new dorm in place, Wayland will make a major push in the capital campaign to secure the remaining funds needed for the Bible building.

Meanwhile, WBU administrators have outlined an extensive plan through which the football program will be self-funded. Dr. Lusk and his staff conducted extensive research of institution similar in size to Wayland that have introduced football within the last 10 years.

“We involved all areas of enrollment management, including admission, student activities, student discipline, athletics,” Lusk said. “We asked about the positive aspects, the growing pains and the frustrating moments.”

Through this nearly four-year process, Lusk compiled mountains of research including projected increases in enrollment, increased number of credit hours taken within various academic disciplines, budget issues involving travel, equipment, facilities and more. Lusk also looked at the effect on periphery groups such as the university store, cafeteria management, housing and other areas. He looked at the potential to recruit within a 150-mile radius. How many high school seniors currently play football within that radius and how many options do they have to continue playing collegiately. Lusk said it was important to see how many students are available regionally since that is where Wayland conducts the majority of its recruiting efforts.

“This program is going to mirror who we are,” Lusk said. “We want to give regional students the opportunity for a good education and the opportunity to compete athletically.”

With this data in hand, Lusk used exceedingly conservative estimates to build a proposal for funding the program. The funds will primarily derive through increased enrollment. Lusk looked at the tendency for football programs to not only add football players to the student enrollment, but also band members, cheerleaders, girlfriends and students who just want to attend a school that offers football. His research showed that for every football player anywhere from 1-3 additional students were added to the enrollment. Lusk’s proposal is based on the potential to add an additional .6 students per football player.

Lusk and Dr. Greg Feris, athletics director, have already begun the search for a qualified football coach to lead the program. The plan is to have the coach in place shortly after the Christmas break. The coach will begin the recruiting process to bring in what is being called a “Leadership” class, patterned after success programs that have been added at other institutions. The leadership class will have approximately 50 members who will begin the process of preparing for the first season of competitive football. Programs generally show an increase in participation throughout the first several years. Lusk shows a conservative growth pattern that projects approximately 130 football players on campus by year four. This is also the year that he hopes to have the full allotment of scholarships. The NAIA allows for 24 full scholarships for a football program.

“This isn’t just about enrollment,” Lusk said. “We have every intention of being competitive.”