Baylor to Break Ground Thursday on On-Campus Football Practice Facility and Student-Athlete Academic Center

May 8, 2007

Media Contacts: Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, (254) 710-6275 or cell (254) 709-5959 or Nick Joos, associate athletic director for communications, (254) 710-3043 or cell (254) 709-9659

Baylor University will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the $34 million Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at the construction site on University Parks Drive, near the Baylor Marina.

The event is open to the public. Parking will be available at the Baylor Marina parking lot. A reception will follow immediately after the ceremony.

Participants in the groundbreaking ceremony will include Bob Simpson of Fort Worth; Grant Teaff, former Baylor head football coach and friend of Al and Dorothy Highers; Baylor President John M. Lilley; Ian McCaw, Baylor Director of Athletics; Guy Morriss, Baylor head football coach; and Jordan Lake, a sophomore business major from Houston and a member of the Baylor football team.

The on-campus practice facility means that, for the first time in the modern era, Baylor will have its football operations located on its campus. (Games will continue to be played at Floyd Casey Stadium.) Additionally, by uniting the practice fields with athletics administration, training and academic facilities in one central location, Baylor's current and future student-athletes will benefit 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 96,300-square-foot 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 and well-known owner of the Dr Pepper Bottling Co. in Alexandria, Highers was a dedicated supporter of Baylor athletics, in particular its football program, until his death in 2003. Highers is survived by his wife, Dorothy.

Support from Bob Simpson made possible the ambitious expanded plan for the new facility. Simpson earned his bachelor's degree in accounting and finance magna cum laude from Baylor in 1970, followed by his MBA 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 seventh and 10th imperatives of Baylor 2012, the university's 10-year vision: providing outstanding academic facilities and building a winning tradition in Baylor athletics.

For more information about the program, contact Kara Sikes at (254) 710-8418 or

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