As new University of Miami football coach Mark Richt prepares to take center stage Thursday for his first Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff media days, the world seems promising for the Hurricanes.
Richt and his players and the South Florida community are rallying around each other, and season ticket sales – and contributions – continue to grow.
Miami athletic director Blake James confirmed to the Miami Herald on Wednesday evening that he knows the person whose name will likely be blazoned on the Hurricanes’ indoor practice facility that still hasn’t been officially announced.
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“I believe that we have the individual who is going to make the gift,’’ James said during a phone conversation Wednesday evening before he left the Charlotte Westin to head home to South Florida. “But as with anything, until we finalize the agreement with them it’s not something that we’re able to announce because we don’t have an agreement in place. As soon as we have an agreement in place, which I believe we have the person that will make that commitment, we’ll make an announcement.
“Once we get the funding in place, then we’ll start the process that needs to be done in order to break ground.’’
Richt, who played for UM and coached at Georgia the past 15 years, pledged $1 million toward the facility that James told the Herald in April was No. 1 on his wish list the past “year and a half.’’ But it will be someone else’s name expected to grace the new facility that will be large enough to enclose a regulation-size football field and will include a weight room and coaches’ offices. The facility is expected to extend from the current weight room housed in the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence near the outdoor practice fields. Initial costs are believed to be between $20 and $30 million.
Canes Insight website owner and Miami Herald correspondent Peter Ariz tweeted Sunday that UM “continues to inform recruits about plans for an indoor facility.. Money is in, announcement imminent.’’
James said the football program “is heading in the direction we want it to go – back toward the top. Mark has done a great job since the day he took the job, really instilling his vision into every aspect of the program…When you look at where he has been and what he has done, I think that elevated it to an even higher level. That’s part of why we’re seeing such a great response from our fan base, whether it’s signing up for the Hurricanes Club, buying season tickets or supporting the indoor facility or excitement of potential recruits coming last week to Paradise Camp.’’
James said his goal is “to have 40,000 season tickets sold before the opener Sept. 3 against FAMU. We feel good that we’ll get to that number. I do know that it will be the most tickets ever sold at Sun Life Stadium.’’
James again said Wednesday that “the Dolphins have kept in regular contact with us and I feel good about the progress being made and believe the Sept. 3 game will be played there. With that said, obviously we have a contingency plan in place that we’ll roll out if needed.’’
He said he did not go on the site visit to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, formerly known as the Citrus Bowl, but that his “staff has gone out and evaluated a number of different sites and Orlando is one of them,’’ should the Dolphins’ stadium not be ready.
Also, when asked if it’s a positive sign for the program that the newly printed UM football media guide has defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Jermaine Grace in it – both are being reviewed internally in regard to the possible violation of NCAA rules in a matter involving a local car rental agency – James said this: “The process continues to go on. And until we complete the process I won’t have a comment on the status of anyone.’’
Has the NCAA been contacted by UM?
“I’m not going to get into discussing that,’’ James answered. “I would say we’re doing what we need to do to make sure we’re meeting the expectations of the NCAA rules and regulations.’’