Groundbreaking Ceremony "Kicks Off" On-Campus Football Practice Facility and Student-Athlete Academic Center

June 18, 2007
Baylor University ceremonially broke ground for the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center on Thursday, May 10, at the construction site on University Parks Drive. The main focus of the Victory with Integrity campaign for Baylor athletics, this $34 million facility will enhance both Baylor football and the development of all student-athletes.

"We are so grateful to the Highers and Simpson families and to XTO Energy for their generous gifts that are making this facility possible," said Baylor University President John M. Lilley.

Other program participants in the groundbreaking ceremony included Bob Simpson of Fort Worth; Grant Teaff, former Baylor head football coach and friend of Al and Dorothy Highers; Ian McCaw, Baylor athletics director; Guy Morriss, Baylor head football coach; and Jordan Lake, sophomore and Baylor football player.

"This is obviously a very exciting day for Baylor and our football program in particular as we begin the process of integrating the Baylor athletics department and football program into the campus environment for the first time in more than 65 years," McCaw said.

These new facilities will bring football practice back to campus (games will continue to be played at Floyd Casey Stadium) and attract great recruits to Baylor football. By uniting not only football practice fields but also athletic administration, training and academic facilities in one central location, Baylor's student-athletes will flourish both in their sports and in their studies.

The Highers Athletics Complex will feature three football practice fields, two with a natural surface and the other with artificial turf, preparing Baylor football athletes for all competitive environments. The Simpson Athletics and Academic Center will bring to campus functions previously housed at Floyd Casey Stadium, such as the main athletics training room, equipment room, football team locker room and weight room, as well as administrative offices, the football office, meeting rooms and an academic center for all student-athletes.

The lead gift for the project, the largest single gift in Baylor's history, is from the estate of Alwin O. Highers Jr. of Alexandria, La. A 1939 Baylor business graduate, Highers was owner of the Dr Pepper Bottling Co. in Alexandria and is survived by his wife, Dorothy.

Support from Bob Simpson and XTO Energy made possible the ambitious expanded plan for the new facility. Simpson earned his bachelor of business administration degree with magna cum laude honors from Baylor in 1970, then a masters degree in business in 1971. He is a co-founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of XTO Energy Inc. of Fort Worth. He is married to Janice Simpson and has seven children.

The new facility advances the Victory with Integrity Campaign, an athletic development program initiated in February 2005, and promotes the first, seventh and tenth imperatives of Baylor 2012: establishing an environment where learning can flourish, providing outstanding academic facilities and building a winning tradition in Baylor athletics.

For more information about the Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center or to learn how you can support this initiative, please contact Mark Minor, Associate Vice President for Major Gifts, at (254) 710-2561 or 1-800-BAYLOR-U, option 4.
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