University Raises Its Game with Upgrades to Athletic Fields, Center
Workers put in a new softball infield and repaired the outfield sod over the summer as part of the upgrades to the athletic facilities.
UT Dallas athletic facilities are undergoing major upgrades in light of the University’s increasing participation in NCAA tournament play.
The upgrades to the sports fields and Activity Center help ensure that the University “will have one of the premier Division III programs in the country,” said Bill Petitt, director of athletics.
By the end of 2014, the University will have invested $500,000 in improvements to fields, training room and facilities, including a new conference room.
“After we hosted the NCAA Division III National Tournament (first and second rounds for men’s basketball) last spring, we knew we needed conference space,” Petitt said. “There’s a certain protocol they require. They need a place to have postgame interviews.”
The conference room, located in a courtyard area between the Activity Center and athletics offices, also will serve as a VIP room and a space for teams to review game videos.
“Recreational Sports staff also will use the meeting space. It will get a lot of use,” Petitt said.
Bill Petitt, director of athletics at UT Dallas, asked for input from coaches before determining which projects would be the most beneficial to University players, fans and parents.
For the latest upgrades, Petitt asked coaches for input on their most immediate needs before he determined what would benefit the most people, including players, parents and fans.
Projects completed over the summer include a new softball infield and repair to the outfield sod, remodeling and expanding the athletic training room in the Activity Center, and resodding two of the 10 fields at the soccer complex.
Ongoing projects include the new conference room as well as replacing dugouts at the baseball field, expanding seating and the hitting facility, and adding countdown clocks for visiting team locker rooms.
The department also purchased new video equipment to enhance production of live video streaming for Comet home games.
“About 1,900 people watched the tournament play online last spring. This will make a better experience for parents and fans who can’t be at the game in person,” Petitt said.
“After we hosted the NCAA Division III National Tournament (first and second rounds for men's basketball) last spring, we knew we needed conference space.”
Petitt, who took over the athletic department in July, had been interim director since January when longtime director Chris Gage retired.
As a member of the NCAA’s Division III, UT Dallas does not offer athletic scholarships. But student-athletes gain more than athletic prowess, Petitt said.
“Students who participate in athletics also learn leadership and time management. All the skills the business world needs, you get in athletics. It translates beyond the team setting,” Petitt said.
Coaches at UT Dallas emphasize academic excellence, too. Students must maintain a 3.25 GPA. Last year, 96 student-athletes earned spots on the American Southwest Conference’s All-Academic Team.
“We have incredibly smart kids, and we stress it,” Petitt said. “We talk about that as much as we talk about eating right and getting enough sleep. Academics are really important to us here.”
The program has also made great athletic strides. Last year, UT Dallas teams in men’s and women’s tennis, men’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s basketball all had winning seasons. Petitt expects even more postseason tournament play in the future.
“Our [Division III] athletic program is not even 20 years old yet, but you can walk around and see championship banners,” he said.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, news[email protected].