Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Trustees approve Tucker contract extension, new health center plans

December 17, 2021
<p>Students, staff and alumni raised concerns on MSU Swim and Dive, Office of Institutional Equity and the university firearm policy during the public participation section of the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.</p>

Students, staff and alumni raised concerns on MSU Swim and Dive, Office of Institutional Equity and the university firearm policy during the public participation section of the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees approved plans for a new Health, Wellness and Fitness Center, including recreation turf fields, upgrades to Spartan Stadium and head football coach Mel Tucker’s 10 year, $95 million contract extension during the meeting on Friday, Dec. 17. 

Once planned, the center will be located on campus at the corner of Shaw and Harrison Road, and will take about a year to plan and about two and a half years to build, vice president for strategic infrastructure planning and facilities Dan Bollman said.

“This is just critical for the health and well being of our students,” Bollman said. “It’s really going to be filled with all the amenities that you’ll see in a state of the art fitness center.”

President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said he is excited for the project and that the university is looking into plans to include a pool in the Health, Wellness and Fitness Center that would replace the current ones on campus.

Community member Michael Balow addressed the board during public comments acknowledging the possibility to include a new pool in the center, saying it will be one of the most important parts of the facility and the potential home for the MSU Swim and Dive team.

“I'm excited about the future of recreation at MSU," Balow said. "Any talk of 'We need $40 million from the alumni to build a new pool' can now be put to rest. The 50 meter pool in the new Health and Wellness Center has a $30 million price tag and is easily covered by the body capability provided by the rec beat.”

In addition to plans for the center, the board authorized the administration to proceed with a project titled Health, Wellness and Fitness - Service Road Recreational Turf Fields. The project has a $13 million budget. 

“When we surveyed our students and asked what they really wanted as far as fitness needs across campus, outdoor fields was one of the number one areas they thought the university was lacking,” Bollman said. “Creating this artificial turf complex will really extend our season for outdoor activities from March through November.”

The plan is for the turf complex to be completed by the fall of 2022. 

The board also approved plans for upgrades to the east side of Spartan Stadium. 

Bollman said the upgrades will address the basic mechanical, electrical upgrades and structural improvements that include reworking the concession stands and restrooms. 

“Those kinds of things that will allow us to provide a venue that our fans have come to expect, and that’s going to provide the amenities that allow us to remain competitive in the national football climate,” Bollman said.

Tucker’s contract extension is effective from Nov. 24, 2021, to Jan. 15, 2032. He is tied with Penn State Head Coach James Franklin for the second-highest-paid coach in college football, behind Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. 

During his president report, Stanley recognized student athletes, coaches and the athletics department for their achievements during the year. 

“We’re ending the year in athletics on a high note, with a great year in many sports,” Stanley said.  

Among those acknowledged for their success were men’s and women’s cross country teams, women’s soccer team and U.S. Amateur golf champion James Piot. 

Women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant was also recognized for her 300th win at MSU and the football team was recognized for its 10-2 season and invitation to play in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30. 

Stanley added, for the fourth consecutive year, MSU established an all-time 80 percent federal graduation rate among student athletes. 

MSU Men's Water Polo Club head coach Matthew Latham spoke to the board recognizing the team for winning the 2021 men's water polo national championship.

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"These club athletes dedicate a massive amount of time, finance or fundraise their own way and continue to represent Michigan State day in day out, not only has great athletes, but as outstanding students and citizens," Latham said.

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