“Top recruits want to see a major commitment from that institution to being the best they could be.” Ken winstead, senior associate athletic director
LAFAYETTE — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette athletic department and Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation are spearheading a review of athletic facilities as part of a master planning effort aimed at bolstering the university’s athletic programs.
“For us to keep moving our program forward, we need to continually enhance — not just our operating budget — but our facilities for athletes and recruits,” said Ken Winstead, the university’s senior associate athletic director who oversees external operations such as fundraising.
Proposed improvements will likely be recommended in different phases, he added.
One addition Winstead said football fans can expect is new premium seating options at Cajun Field. The stadium has no suites or club seats.
“There will be suites (and) club seating, similar to what you see at other major football facilities,” he said.
Winstead said the state of athletic facilities plays a role in recruits’ selection of a university.
“Top recruits want to see a major commitment from that institution to being the best they could be” from both an academic standpoint and also based on their financial commitment to facilities, he said.
“A prospective student athlete looks at where are you from a budget standpoint and what your facility layout is,” Winstead said.
Students consider not just the state of athletic fields or stadiums, but “locker rooms, weight rooms, meeting rooms and a student athlete academic center,” he said.
“We need enhanced facilities to provide for the very best experience for our student athletes,” Winstead said. “In continuing to be successful and competing at the very best in collegiate athletics, it means we have to continue recruiting student athletes.
To recruit great student athletes you have to show you have a good program through caliber of coaches, caliber of facilities and caliber of athletics.”
The master planning began in late August and is now under review by university administrators, Winstead said.
“It’s not at the point where it’s final or that we’re ready to go public,” he said.
A draft of the plan will be reviewed by administrators and coaches, whose input will help shape the final plan, Winstead said.
Once complete, a finance plan and timetable for the work will be released and the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation is expected to launch a fundraising effort, he said.