A Vision Realized: The 30-year anniversary of Troy’s move to Division I

Published 2:33 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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*Editor’s note: This is the full three-part feature in one long-form story. 

In 1993, 30 years ago, Troy State University Athletics officially made the move from Division II to Division I, the vision of a select group of school officials, alumni and supporters.

Making the move up from Division II to Division I is not an easy – or cheap – move, especially in a program like Troy that had won eight national championships across all sports in the 1980s alone and a total of 11 team national championships and two other individual national championships (in golf).

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The move, though, was a long process and one that very few were supportive of initially. The driving force for this move was Troy State University alumnus Benny Beard. Beard, a 1962 Troy graduate, said he initially had the vision for Troy moving up to Division I after seeing the school’s award-winning “Sound of the South” band performing at an Atlanta Falcons game.

“Of course, being a Troy graduate ‘The Sound of the South’ was a great source of pride for all of us even back in that era,” Beard said. “It sparked a thought that if we could make our football team as well known as our band, we might get even more attention for our school.”

A number of key figures were instrumental in Troy’s move to Division I in the 1990s.

Beard moved back to Troy in the 1970s – starting Beard Oil Company – and became extremely active with the university and Troy Athletics. He formed the Troy State Action Club in 1970, made up of local businessmen and women and Troy alumni as an effort to bridge the school’s athletic department and the city.

Beard began presenting the idea of moving to Division I to the Troy State University Board of Trustees as far back as 1984 but there was little to no interest in the idea.

“I thought it would be good, I thought it would be a good move for the university to grow,” Beard said. “I thought by growing the university it would be good for the businesses in the City of Troy, as well.

“I thought we had a great asset here that we could do like other schools that had moved up to Division I, capitalize on football and get on ESPN and get better known, so we could have more students.”

Outside of the cost of moving to Division I, much of the apathy towards making the move was due to the success Troy’s athletic programs had become accustom to in Division II.

“We had been dominant in Division II,” Beard said. “But, I could see down the line that you needed that television exposure that you just couldn’t get in Division II. You needed to have your school on ESPN calling out your scores and Division II wasn’t going to get that.”

While the vast majority did not want to even think about making the move, a small group of supporters began to rally around the idea. Those supporters included Troy graduate Nick Cervera. Cervera had seen Troy go from the cellar in NAIA in the early 1960s to a NAIA powerhouse and then eventual powerhouse in Division II despite a “shoestring budget” in the athletic department. Cervera saw the potential move to Division I as a chance for the Trojans to earn money from games against bigger schools.

“A Division I-A team could play one or two Division I-AA teams and count those towards bowl eligibility,” Cervera said. “So, if they played Troy and won it would count as a win towards that bowl eligibility. By going I-AA we had an opportunity to play these big schools for a paycheck, which would help the program.”

Beard and Cervera were joined in the group of supporters of the move by alumni and supporters like Walter Hennigan, Wiley Locklar, Troy Hall of Famer Mike Amos, Richard Dowling, Johnny Williams, Alvin Dees, Earl Johnson and Dr. Doug Hawkins.

“There was a lot of apathy over it and most people didn’t understand wanting to make the move,” Beard said. “So, not only did we have to suggest making the move but we had to try and educate people on the benefits of making it. They didn’t understand the vision like we did and that’s what it was, a vision.”

To get the traction that the group needed, there needed to be strong support from someone in Troy’s administration. That’s where new Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins comes into the story.

Hawkins, a Mobile native, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, winning the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Following his military service, he worked for the University of Alabama at Birmingham as the assistant dean in the 1970s and was the president of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in the 1980s.

Hawkins had become known as an innovative and successful leader in education in the state and in 1989 was named Chancellor of Troy University. Beard and Cervera quickly moved to gain his support.

“Dr. Hawkins was newly appointed and I wanted him to see where we’d been and where we might grow,” Beard recalled. “He was the one in charge and he would be the one that could and would make it happen.”

Cervera remembered his first meeting with Hawkins.

“When Dr. Hawkins first came on campus Ben took him to my house on a Sunday and he and I badgered him the whole time,” Cervera said with a laugh. “We were hitting him with all these changes we wanted – primarily the move to Division I – and he was getting it from both sides.”

Hawkins recalled another story of Beard’s persistence to gain his support.

“I hadn’t been in Troy very long when (Beard) called me on a Saturday morning and invited me to accompany him to a football game at an in-state institution,” Hawkins recalled. “When we got to the stadium it was full at about 4,000 people, and we watched the game from a president’s box that wasn’t anything to write home about. On the way back, as we sat in the airport, he looked at me and said, ‘Now, is that what you want for Troy? Is that good enough for Troy?’ What you hear is only surface level, but what you see becomes conviction, and what I saw really elevated my level of conviction.”

In 1990, Hawkins appointed Beard to establish a fund raising drive, the TSU Athletic Challenge Fund, to raise $1 million to help fund and support the effort to move to Division I. Hawkins also appointed a study committee to study the viability of the move and on April 9, 1990, the committee voted to recommend that the Troy State Board of Trustees seek membership in Division I.

“It takes a lot of money to make that move,” Chancellor Hawkins said. “In life, you generally get what you pay for, so we had to be creative to generate the funding to support all of this. You have to have the right attitude and that was initially a barrier.

The evolution of Veterans Memorial Stadium from the 1990s, top, and now, bottom, is a stark reminder of the changes that have come at Troy University since the move to Division I. (Drone photo by Parker Trawick)

“Our facilities were not Division I facilities, so that’s why we’ve methodically done everything we can to get to a level where we can be competitive.”

Dr. Doug Hawkins – a beloved Troy veterinarian and member of the study committee and Board of Trustees – said at the time, “We just feel like this is the time for us to make this move. It will be the best thing for the athletic programs, our athletes and our university. We’ve been successful in just about every area of sports, and we feel like it will benefit us financially and in terms of exposure for us to go Division I.”

The Board of Trustees eventually passed the recommendation to move to Division I. Beard called Dr. Doug Hawkins a big ally in the quest to get to Division I and Chancellor Hawkins agreed but made sure to emphasize that it was a team effort.

“Benny Beard and Doug Hawkins were very instrumental to this thing,” Chancellor Hawkins said. “Dr. Doug was an influence in us coming here to Troy in 1989. I met him in the 1980s and he was going to have us in Troy one way or another. It was a collective effort, though.

“You can’t just have an epiphany and it happens, you have to have a vision. There needs to be a framework for it and there needs to be a collective vision. That decision to move to Division I is not owned by one person. I was sitting in this position and it was up to me to provide leadership for it but it was inspired by so many others – like Benny Beard and Dr. Doug – that had a much broader vision of what Troy could be.”

After Troy University – then Troy State University – officially made the decision to move to Division I in 1990, the real work had to begin.

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins had placed Troy alumnus – and longtime supporter – Ben Beard as the leader of the TSU Athletic Challenge Fund, with the goal of reaching $1 million towards the effort of moving to Division I. The Challenge group raised more than $200,000 in pledges in their very first meeting and Beard himself pledged $100,000 to the effort.

“I wanted to help the university and I thought that it was important enough for me to lead and contribute by starting it off like that,” Beard said. “I felt it was an important issue and important enough for the university, which in turn benefited the city.”

There was still much work to be done, however. Many of Troy’s Athletic facilities – including Sartain Hall and Veterans Memorial Stadium – were not up to Division I standards. The university received a $400,000 gift from the City of Troy and Mayor Jimmy Lunsford to help with the expansion of the football stadium.

“The trustees voted to make the move but we didn’t meet the criteria for Division I still,” Beard said. “We only had 10,000 seats (at the football stadium) and we had to have 17,000 seats or something like that. You couldn’t just snap your fingers and get something like that. So, the City of Troy felt it was important enough to participate to help make that move.

“That support has carried over to the current administration and city council who have been very supportive (of the university) over the years. Mayor Jason Reeves has been a firm supporter, even dating back to when he was a student on campus.”

Dr. Jack Hawkins, left, met with the Board of Trustees a number of times on the move to Division I. Future Troy Mayor Jason Reeves, center, was SGA President at the time.

Reeves, who was Troy SGA President and a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees at the time of the Division I move, said he was a supporter of the idea but didn’t start out that way.

“Like a lot of people I was probably a little skeptical very early on when I was in high school,” Reeves recalled. “We had so much success and so many incredible memories of baseball, basketball and football and how well we had done, as far as playing for national championships and things of that nature.

“The more I got involved in college – and especially becoming SGA President – and hearing the research that had been done and the opportunities that were there, I became a big supporter of the idea. Spending time with Benny Beard and Dr. Doug (Hawkins) also really helped with that.”

Lunsford and the Troy City Council at the time would continue that support for the move by entering into a joint-use agreement with the university and providing a total of $4.5 million over the years for further improvements at Veteran Memorial Stadium and Sartain Hall. By that point, Reeves – a 24-year old recent Troy graduate – was on the city council.

“Johnny Witherington, Charles Meeks, myself, Jose Henderson and Wanda Moultry were on the council, and of course, Mayor Lunsford,” Reeves said. “There was some debate and study over that decision back then but I think in hindsight it looks like a very wise move. It was a big leap but I have to give a lot of credit to Mayor Lunsford and the city council.

“It’s really amazing. I’ve reflected on it and I think it’s all more than we could have ever hoped for. It’s hard to quantify what it’s meant financially, also emotionally, to the school, the community and to the region as a whole.”

Beard also noted that new athletic director Johnny Williams was also extremely important to the move to Division I.

“By that time Johnny Williams had become the athletic director, and was very instrumental in making these changes,” Bear emphasized. “He was an ardent supporter of the move to Division I and was very instrumental in making this move happen. He played a very big role as a leader in leading us to Division I.”

Chancellor Hawkins emphasizes that while the move involved the athletic programs, it was never about sports.

“Too often you’re defined on the basis of your athletic programs,” said Chancellor Hawkins. “You can see it by how some institutions are regarded; they may be a good, solid academic institution but they’re not given the same credit that Division I institutions are given. We knew we had a solid academic program and we had a great platform and foundation for moving up because the best barometer for what you can do is what you’ve done and we had done very well at Division II. There was no more successful program in Division II than Troy.”

The financial obstacles were only one aspect of the issues the university had to overcome to make the move.

“We knew it would be a challenge,” Hawkins said. “There were a lot of naysayers, far more naysayers than people supporting it.”

The naysayers included those in the media that ridiculed the thought. Phillip Marshall – a longtime sports writer in the state – used his column in the June 5, 1990, Montgomery Advertiser to proclaim that “the days of glory will soon end for Troy State.”

“The unanimous vote by the school’s Board of Trustees was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm and if that’s what the trustees want, so be it,” Marshall wrote. “But I’ll be darned if I can understand it. Troy State’s image for the past decade has been one of a winner. It has been built by the sweat and blood of athletes who have won eight national championships, including two in football and two in baseball.

“Those days are over. Troy State has turned its athletic program down a dangerous road. It is a road that likely will lead from happy days of championships to long days of mediocrity.”

Hawkins said he was never deterred by the naysayers.

“I wasn’t looking for 100 people saying they can’t do something, I’m looking for one person to say why we should do it and that we can do it,” he said. “What excites me most about Troy is that same spirit is alive and well in parts of the university. Again, it’s not about athletics, it’s about the institution and being the best we can be. If you don’t think you can, you never will.”

While the Trojan athletic program has yet to win a Division I national championship, “long days of mediocrity” have certainly not been the case either. Since the move, Troy has won conference crowns in football, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, tennis and golf. Virtually every Trojan athletic program has made postseason appearances and the amount of All-Americans that have represented the Cardinal and Black is eye-popping.

Hall of Fame Coach Larry Blakeney was a key reason for Troy’s success in football after the move to Division I.

While everyone involved in the move reiterates that it was not solely an athletic one or a football move, football itself brings its own set of challenges. While all other sports just have Division I, football separates Division I into two classifications. At the time it was known as Division I-AA (FCS) and Division I-A (FBS).

“We were a bit naïve about everything, I will be quick to admit that,” Hawkins said. “Notre Dame can get by as an independent but Troy needs some company. The way we jumped into Division I without a conference affiliation was one of the biggest challenges we had and it was a difficult time.”

Both Hawkins and Beard point to needing the right football coach to lead the move in football as being key. In 1991, just two years before the move to Division I, longtime Auburn assistant coach Larry Blakeney was hired to lead the program.

“They key early on was hiring Larry Blakeney,” Hawkins said. “He had a Division I mentality, he knew the game, he could relate to people and he excited our fan base here. Attitude is always a deciding factor.”

Blakeney said that he was all for the move when he heard about it.

“When I got hired we were still Division II and then went to I-AA, which was a good move but nobody down there was sure about it,” Blakeney – who is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame – recalled. “I was all in for whatever Dr. Hawkins and those guys on the board wanted to do. Mr. Ben Beard and Dr. Doug Hawkins, folks like that, were staunch Troy supporters and were very positive about the move. I don’t think I was ever a negative factor for it and maybe a cautious positive factor towards it. I think we did it the right way.”

Unfortunately, many of those individuals that were key to making the move have since passed away, but their efforts live on in all of the successes the university sees, on and on off the playing fields and courts. When Troy made the decision to move to Division I, the university had a total enrollment of just over 13,200 students and just 4,400 on the Troy campus, according to a 1990 Columbus Ledger-Enquirer article. Those numbers had ballooned to a total of 21,345 in 2020 with 7,595 on the main campus. While the COVID-19 pandemic affected those numbers some, Troy’s enrollment is still over 18,000 – with 6,300 on the main Troy campus – for this most recent term.

The renovations at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium continued even after the move to Division I, including a first-class North End Zone facility.

“I’m not a proud person, I like to consider myself to be rather humble,” Cervera said. “So, I don’t take it as a personal accomplishment, I look at as a team accomplishment. It took leadership from people like Dr. Jack Hawkins who had foresight and could see into the future.

“This was a concerted effort but of this effort, if you had to pick a spearhead it would have to be Ben Beard. We had to have that leadership and foresight (from Hawkins), though. We could politic and stomp and scream but without the cooperation from the chancellor you aren’t going to get anything done.”

Hawkins said that he is most proud of the advancements he continues to see across the university, which the move to Division I certainly helped facilitate.

“I’m proud that we’ve had so many people that have worked so hard to make it possible and I’m proud that they believe and continued to believe in Troy,” Hawkins emphasized. “Not only are we growing academically but the perception of Troy continues to grow. When we hosted Missouri and Oklahoma State and Army and beat them on our field, we had always looked up to these schools. We don’t look up at anyone anymore, we look them dead in their eyes and believe we can beat anyone.”

Beard echoed Hawkins’ sentiments.

“I’m extremely proud and gratified to have been a part of it,” Beard said. “I think it was the right move and I’m very gratified for what Troy has grown into. We needed that vehicle to have that growth and I’m extremely proud we were able to do that and it worked out.”

The move to Division I was a vision and that vision doesn’t stop there and it doesn’t stop at just simply being successful.

“It’s not a dream come true but it has been a vision realized,” Hawkins emphatically said. “Every day we realize it even more because I believe the best is yet to come. 30 years ago who would have thought our football team would be ranked No. 19 in the country (if FBS)? Now, the playoffs are expanding and it’s a level playing field now, so why not Troy?

“If Coastal Carolina can win a baseball (national championship) then why not Troy? If Florida Atlantic – who we hold a 21-12 advantage over – can make it to a Final Four then why not Troy? There is a winning attitude at Troy and there may be a little bit of a chip on our shoulder but that’s not a bad thing. When you come out of the woods of South Alabama anything is possible. That’s the way we view this university.”

Troy University’s move to Division I has been one of the more successful moves in college athletics and while it was a long road for a very proud athletic program, it’s been a journey that has paid off.

Troy University – then Troy State University – was officially approved to move into Division I competition by the NCAA in June of 1993, effective during the upcoming fall sports season. All of Troy’s athletic programs would play alongside the bigger schools across the country right off the bat, except for the football team. The NCAA breaks up its Division I football programs into two divisions, Division I-A (FBS) and Division I-AA (FCS). Troy would initially play in Division I-AA, but by 1996 plans had already begun to make the move to Division I-A.

Troy quarterback Kelvin Simmons helped guide Troy to unprecedented success during the school’s first years in Division I Football.

Following Troy’s decision to move to Division I, the Trojan football team departed the Gulf South Conference and became independent as a part of the program’s transition into Division I-AA, which also meant Troy was ineligible for postseason play during those seasons.

Under first year head coach Larry Blakeney – who came over after a long career as an assistant coach at Auburn – the Trojans went 5-6 in 1991, after two losing seasons in 1988 and 1989 and a 5-5 record in 1990. In Troy’s final season in Division II, the Trojans went 10-1 with a schedule primarily against Division I-AA opponents.

In Troy’s very first season in Division I-AA, the Trojans capped off an undefeated 10-0-1 regular season and earned a No. 1-ranking in the country. Aside from a 21-21 tie against Central State, the Trojans dominated their way through the regular season, earning wins over three Top 25 opponents.

“I think that everybody out there accepted it and the players and prospects accepted it and understood that we wouldn’t be an immediate powerhouse that Troy had been used to being,” Blakeney said. “It’s a competitive disadvantage to make that move but also, from an image and respect standpoint, it’s a big positive. It took us awhile but I think we got to the point where we gained respect and got some recruits and transfers and junior college guys that really helped us in the end.”

In 1993, the Trojan offense was led by dual-threat quarterback Kelvin Simmons, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns along with rushing for more than 300 yards and six scores. The Trojan offense also featured the receiving talents of Daleville native Robert Kilow and Orlando Parker. Kilow finished the season with 934 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Parker hauled in 46 catches for 979 yards and nine scores. Parker would go on to become Troy’s very first player to be selected in the NFL Draft since the move to Division I when the New York Jets selected him in the fourth round of the 1994 NFL Draft.

“You could feel the difference,” Kilow said of playing against Division I athletes. “As we started playing those larger schools you could tell the difference. They had a little better stuff than we did. We didn’t have anything as nice as Troy has now. Everything was sort of a gradual build up. It’s been a radical change at Troy over the years. Now that I’m gone, I can look back and really see all those changes when I come back.”

In the postseason, Troy demolished No. 14 Stephen F. Austin at home and earned a 35-28 win over No. 5-ranked McNeese State in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Trojans then lost a heartbreaker 24-21 to No. 9 Marshall in the National Semifinals. Despite the frustrating loss, Troy had made a statement with their move to Division I-AA.

“I remember those tough games the most,” Kilow said. “As a player, you’re in the middle of it and just taking it all in. Your mindset is just focusing on the now. I started working out even harder and trying to be the best receiver I could be.

“Coach Blakeney came from Auburn and I don’t think (the move) phased him at all. He grasped it and knew what to expect and let the changes come to him. He got us ready for it and I think that really helped us with that move.”

The success on the gridiron wasn’t a fluke in 1993 either. Blakeney led his Trojans to seven NCAA Playoff appearances during Troy’s eight years in Division I-AA, with two Final Four appearances. Troy finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country three separate times during that span.

In 2001, Troy made the move to Division I-A (FBS) and finished 7-4 in that first year. Troy moved into the Sun Belt Conference in 2004 and won five straight conference titles under Blakeney between 2006 and 2010, along with five bowl game appearances. Troy won its first bowl game in 2006, in the New Orleans Bowl.

Troy coach Jon Sumrall raises the Sun Belt Conference Championship Trophy. (Photo by Henry Otto/Creative Media Images)

Following Blakeney’s successful career, Neal Brown – a Blakeney assistant – took over in 2015 and led Troy to a Sun Belt Championship in 2017 and three straight bowl wins between 2016 and 2018. After a tough three-year stretch under Chip Lindsey, former Brown assistant Jon Sumrall took over and led Troy to another conference championship and bowl game in 2022 along with finishing the season in the Top 25 in the FBS for the first time in school history.

“We’ve been blessed with good coaches,” Troy University alumnus Benny Beard said. “From Larry Blakeney to Neal Brown and now Jon Sumrall, we’ve really had some excellent coaches that really helped with the Division I move.

“Plus, we’re down in a part of the country that has (good) athletes. We could get in the car and go and drive and recruit more people than people in New Jersey or Delaware could do flying. When you have Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle to recruit in it’s a treasure trove of talent.”

The other sports at Troy have also found plenty of success since the move to Division I. Longtime coach Don Maestri had turned the Troy men’s basketball team into a Division II powerhouse during his tenure, including a national runner-up finish in Troy’s final season before the move to Division I.

One of the frustrating parts of the move to Division I was a stipulation that stated that basketball programs would not be eligible for postseason play for eight seasons.

Troy basketball coach Don Maestri’s success at Troy didn’t stop after the move to Division I despite not being able to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for eight years, due to NCAA rules.

“Back then you had to commit to an 8-year hiatus in the postseason to make that move, what does that do to your recruiting,” Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins said. “We had a strong program and a strong coaching staff, though.”

Still, Maestri kept the Troy Basketball team competitive and in 2002 led the Trojans to their first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning more than 20 games for the first time since that 1993 season.

Troy has earned six postseason appearances since then, two regular season Sun Belt Championships and a Sun Belt Tournament Championship along with three seasons with 20 or more wins, including the last two seasons.

Troy women’s basketball found success early on in the move to Division I, winning the East Coast Conference regular season crown in 1994 and winning the tournament championship and making the program’s first NCAA Tournament in 1997. After some tough years, Troy hired a successful junior college coach in Chanda Rigby, who has turned the Trojan women into one of the top “mid-major” teams in the country.

Rigby’s Trojans have made seven postseason appearances, earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament on four occasions, won the Sun Belt regular season championship twice and won the Sun Belt tournament crown on three different occasions.

Troy Baseball was also Division II powerhouse, winning national championships in 1986 and 1987. In Troy’s first year in Division I, the Trojans won the East Coast Conference and went on to make the NCAA Regionals for the first time in 1995. In 2003, Troy hired Bobby Pierce, who led the Trojans to 450 wins during his career and four NCAA Regional appearances along with four conference championships. In total, Troy Baseball has earned eight NCAA Regional appearances with seven conference championships since the move to Division I.

With the move to Division I, Troy also added softball to the athletics program. Despite Troy having never fielded a softball program – and jumping straight into Division I – Troy Hall of Famer Melanie Davis guided Troy Softball to 40 wins in its first season of play.

Her Trojan squads made the NCAA Regional for the first time in just its third year of existence. Troy made its second NCAA Regional appearance in 2021, under Beth Mullins, and the Trojans have won two conference crowns, both under Davis’ leadership.

The Troy volleyball team has found its most success in recent years, earning postseason appearances in three of the last four seasons. The Trojans have also won 18 or more games in three of the last four seasons, including a 23 wins in 2019, the most wins in a season since 1995.

The men’s golf team was one of the top programs in Division II, wining three national championships in 1976-1977 and 1984, along with three more national runner-up finishes. It didn’t take long for Trojan Golf to find success in Division I, either. Troy won a conference championship in its first year in Division I. The Trojans have since won four more conference crowns and made four NCAA Tournament appearances.

The women’s golf team also won Division II National Championships in 1984, 1986 and 1989. Since the move to Division I, the Trojans have won three Sun Belt Conference Championships.

The Troy men’s tennis team won its first ever conference championship after the move to Division I, capturing the Mid-Continent League Championship. Since that time, the golf team has totaled three more conference championships and made it to the NCAA Tournament on two separate occasions.

The women’s tennis team has won two conference championships and made one NCAA Tournament appearance since the Division I move.

While the success on the fields and courts are important, a lot of that success stems from the continued improvements across the athletics facilities on campus. Some of the biggest Division I schools have all or some of their facilities scattered across town but Troy’s is central on the campus.

Veterans Memorial Stadium has seen improvement after improvement over the years. After the initial upgrades with the move to Division I, the stadium eventually underwent a total of $18 million in renovations through 2003, which saw stadium capacity increase once again along with new artificial turf, large screens throughout the stadium, a renovated press box and more. Eventually, Troy Football added the massive north End Zone Facility, which added even more seating along with a 35-by-90-foot video board. The $24 million addition also provided new locker rooms, a strength and conditioning center, athletic training facility and football staff offices.

In 2012, Troy Basketball and Volleyball moved from the old Sartain Hall into the $40 million Trojan Arena, one of the nicest college basketball arenas in the state. The 5,200-seat arena features LED ribbons video ribbons around the arena along with two 767-square-foot LED boards, a large food court, practice courts and staff offices and meeting rooms for Troy Basketball, Volleyball and Track.

Riddle-Pace Field saw the addition of the Lott Baseball Complex in 2008, which provided new locker rooms, offices, meeting rooms and an indoor hitting facility. An outfield wall and new scoreboard were also added in 2008. This year, the university began a $12 million renovation at Riddle-Pace, which when completed will see the stadium have a completely updated façade along with additional chair-back seating, a brand-new press box, a video room, the RBI Club down the third-base line, a new concourse area for concessions and new coaches offices.

The Troy Softball Complex was originally opened in 2002 and underwent a $3 million renovation in 2014, adding a new locker room, player lounge, athletic training room and hitting facility along with artificial turf on the field and additions to the press box and coaches offices.

The Troy Golf Practice Facility was built in 2013 and features a 35-acre multi-use practice course and clubhouse for the Troy Golf Team. The 4,400-square foot clubhouse features men’s and women’s locker rooms, coaches’ offices, a team lounge and indoor hitting bays.

The Troy Soccer and Jesse H. Colley Track Complex was opened in 2003. The track, which had surrounded the playing field at Veterans Memorial Stadium for years, was relocated to the soccer complex. The complex also features long and triple jump pits, pole vault facilities, high jump pits and more track and field events. It also houses the soccer locker room and coaches offices. More additions to the soccer complex are expected in the coming years.

Troy opened the $700,000 Lunsford Tennis Complex in 2001 with 12-lighted courts, a clubhouse and pro shop. A new scoreboard was also added this year, as well.

“This place is ferociously competitive,” Hawkins said. “This university loves to compete and loves to win and hates to lose. What we want here is an institution that can be the very best that it can be. I think football drives the south and I think it drives this athletic department, but we’ve been successful across the board. We’re not a one sport university.”