April 3, 2014 11:02:58 AM
In the coming weeks, Mississippi University for Women plans to hire a consultant to evaluate bringing intercollegiate athletics back to the university.
While a consultant has not yet been named, MUW President Jim Borsig said he expects the evaluation to be completed by Labor Day. The consultant will conduct a cost evaluation of the university's current facilities, as well as examining what an intercollegiate athletics program would look like.
"They will do a cost estimate on operation and facilities, assessment on conferences and competition and will make a recommendation on what an intercollegiate sports program might look like for The W," Borsig said.
While the evaluation will be completed by fall, Borsig said the process of looking into bringing athletics back to the school will be "slow and deliberate."
The school currently has an operating swimming pool, tennis courts and a gymnasium that seats more than 500 people. Softball fields are also on campus but they haven't been used for a collegiate tournament since the athletic program was cut in 2003, Borsig said.
However, Borsig said the school's facilities could be updated and improved through private fundraising. The university has also spoken with city and county officials about the possibility of using the Columbus Soccer Complex as well as talks with East Mississippi Community College officials about using EMCC's golf course at Lion Hills.
"We have fairly and systematically explored what the possibilities are as far as facilitates go and we haven't' seen anything that says we have a significant problem," Borsig said.
While the university would have to build training facilities and coaches' offices, Borsig said he was not deterred. However, the end result will depend on the evaluation.
"Between the facilities that are on the campus and in the community we were satisfied that there was really no large scale facility issues, but we'll learn more as we go through the next steps," he said.
Throughout the process of potentially bringing athletics back to MUW, Borsig said he has felt the support of the university community and the City of Columbus.
"Everything is positive," he said. "Everyone from students to staff to faculty to alumni to community members have encouraged us at every step of the way to keep pursuing this."
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah
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