Virginia Tech has just received the largest philanthropic gift in its history, a $15.2 million anonymous donation for… a 17,000-square-foot enhanced dining hall for student athletes. The state-of-the-art “performance center” will serve as a dining room for athletes in the university’s 22 sports programs, reports the Roanoke Times.
“This is a big step in our journey to being the best in the ACC,” said Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock at a news conference yesterday. “What we aspire to is to be a leader across the board, and we will get there in our conference.”
About half the ACC schools have a sports nutrition program, and Virginia Tech is one of them. With five dedicated dieticians, the university has the largest staff in the league. The Hokies spend $2.5 million to $3 million per year to feed their athletes.
Tech athletic officials see a strong emphasis on nutrition as one of the best way to improve athletic performance. “We’ve seen more gains through not doing anything different in the weight room but feeding our kids on a more consistent basis,” said football coach Justin Fuente. “It you just give them money, they’re not going to buy food. And if they do, it’s not going to be good food.”
By making the athletic dining hall a reality, the gift clears the way to the athletic department’s future goals of expanding the strength and conditioning area in the football building, renovating Cassell Coliseum, making improvements to Lane Stadium, and addressing funding for scholarships.
Bacon’s bottom line: People should be free to spend their money how they please, and if someone wants to give $15.2 million to create a state-of-the-art dining room and sports nutritional program, well, that’s their right. But I really do question the donor’s priorities. College affordability and access have reached such a crisis stage that some Virginia Tech students are skipping meals and resorting to food banks.
When the term “starving students” is to be taken literally, here are questions that local media should be asking: What will it cost to maintain and operate the dining hall, and who is paying? To their credit, the anonymous donors established an endowment that will provide additional funding for upkeep in future years — a generous gesture and wise precaution. Here’s what we don’t know: Will that endowment cover the entire cost or just a portion?
By the way, who pays for those five dieticians — Virginia Tech’s athletic department? If so, where does the athletic department’s funding come from? TV revenues and ticket sales? Tuition revenue? State support for Virginia Tech?
Virginia Tech has a three-tiered nutritional regime: one tier for student athletes, another tier for those who can afford the Hokies’ renowned dining facilities, and a third tier for those who have recourse to food banks. If I were a betting man, I’d guess that the creation of the top tier is funded entirely through donations and athletic department revenues. But I don’t know that for a fact. The public has a right to know, and the media have a responsibility to find out.There are currently no comments highlighted.