The Colorado athletic program is enjoying more fundraising success than ever, but athletic director Rick George made it clear Thursday that the finish line is nowhere in sight.
"We've got a lot of work to do," George said during the first day of the board of regents meeting at the University Memorial Center. "We're not even close to being done."
CU recently reached a milestone, as it topped the $100 million mark in its "Drive for $105 million" campaign. As of Jan. 31, CU had raised $100,631,894 to go towards financing the recent facilities upgrades.
The Buffs have blown away their original goal of raising $20 million in endowments (they are just over $34 million), but well below their goal of $85 million in capital funds (currently at $66.6 million).
"We've got a lot more capital that we have to raise and that will be our focus in the next six to nine months," George said.
The morning portion of Thursday's meeting centered on athletics, where George presented an overall update of the department; senior associate athletic director Ceal Barry gave an overview of CU's gender equity plan; and UC-Colorado Springs athletic director Nathan Gibson gave an update on his department.
George spent a lot of his time talking about the academic and athletic success and goals for the Buffs, but also spoke about the fundraising and facilities upgrades still needed.
"We need more capital dollars for this project, to complete it from a financial perspective," George said of the recently completed $165 million project that resulted in new football facilities and the construction of the Champions Center.
This year, CU will make its first payment — roughly $10 million — on the debt service for that project.
George said naming rights will help to generate those capital funds, including putting a name on Folsom Field, and he said, "we're going to rename the Coors Events Center in time."
CU would also like to sell naming rights to the Touchdown Club, Champions Center, the indoor practice facility and the rooftop terrace. The school is looking at selling donor and/or corporate naming rights.
"There's a lot of big opportunities from a naming standpoint that we're focused on," he said.
George said it is possible CU could reach naming rights agreements this year, but added, "It's a long process. I don't think we're close, but I think we're having some meaningful discussions."
In addition to raising funds to pay for the completed upgrades, CU has a long list of projects it would like to tackle in the future.
On the list is a lacrosse complex, upgrades to the lacrosse and volleyball locker rooms and an indoor tennis facility.
George added that the west side of Folsom Field "is old and it's tired." The west side includes Balch Fieldhouse, which is currently an important facility for track and field athletes who participate in throwing events.
"There will be some short-term things we do (with Balch and the west side of Folsom), but it really needs a long term look, and we haven't been able to sit down and do that," George said. "We have some long-term issues we have to fix."
George added that he would not wait on raising all the capital for the completed projects before beginning work on other projects.
"I think we can look at both at the same time," he said.
Folsom Field, he said, may get some minor repairs this year. At Coors Events Center, there is a plan to install a center-hung scoreboard before next fall.
In June, CU began a review and update to its gender equity plan, something it plans to do every five years. The 16-person task force spent months reviewing CU procedures and budgets, interviewed coaches and did a survey of all 355 student-athletes.
The school was pleased that 62 percent of the athletes responded by answering the 97-question survey.
Barry outlined several areas in which CU has improved since the last plan was established in 2011, but said much more can be done.
Among recommendations, CU wants coaches of women's sports to use 100 percent of their allotted scholarships annually. Currently, about $279,000 in scholarship money is going unused.
The gender equity plan outlines several other recommendations in areas of equipment, travel, tutoring, facilities, housing and more.
"It gives us a blueprint for the next five years," Barry said. "If we follow it ... we're going to be a better department."
On Friday, the regents are expected to vote on the approval of the three-year contract signed by new defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot last month. The deal, which is set to pay Eliot roughly $700,000 per year, appears likely to be approved. ... CU student-athletes had an overall GPA of 2.953 in the fall, marking the fifth consecutive semester over 2.9. ... As of Jan. 30, student-athletes had accumulated 1,429 hours of service. ... George did not provide a financial report, but said, "we are tracking well ahead of our budget ... and anticipate that we'll have our third consecutive year of being in the black with a small surplus."