NU's facilities plan in trustees' hands

Northwestern's "Master Plan" for new or upgraded facilities remains in the hands of the university's trustees. NU director of athletics Jim Phillips spoke about what's next for the plan.

A plan for upgrades to Northwestern's athletic facilities remains in the hands of the trustees, but it's constantly fresh in the mind of athletic director Jim Phillips.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about our facilities and what the future means relative to the upgrade of enhancement of our athletic and recreational facilities," said Phillips while meeting with the media at the Big Ten's spring meetings.

The issue is likely to be brought up during the trustee's next meetings in June, according to Phillips.

Phillips continues to believe new or upgraded facilities would be vitally important for each program's success.

"It has become increasingly more critical for our success," said Phillips. "Not only now, but well into the future."

Northwestern's "Master Plan" for facilities upgrades was launched in October of 2010. Since that point, Phillips and members of the athletic department have toured facilities of other universities throughout the country.

Given Northwestern's campus size and minimal room for expansion, plus many other factors, the plan has been developing slowly. Phillips is understanding of the process.

"We have to do it the Northwestern way, in a Northwestern manner, and in what's good for our campus," Phillips said. "I have a jurisdiction over a portion of that, being director of athletics and recreation. I can't do it in a way that's not the best situated for the rest of the campus."

Phillips firmly believes that the primary beneficiary has to be Northwestern's football program, which drives the majority of the athletic department's revenue. Phillips referred to the program as "the engine" of the department.

"We have to continue to invest in our football program, and that has a chance for a residual positive effect on the other 18 sports," Phillips said.

The Master Plan's evaluation and collaboration continue to take place, but any finalization remains in the hands of Northwestern's trustees. NU's coaches and athletic department remain patient.

"We've sliced it and cut it up a lot of different ways," he said. "I think we have a majority in place here that makes a lot of sense, and we have demonstrated due diligence, and done it in a way that is respectful to the campus."

Chris Emma has covered college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports since 2009. He covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs.
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