FAU receives $16 million gift to start construction new academic and athletic center


(Left to right) Charlie Partridge, Pat Chun, John Kelly, and Kellie Lewis-Jay. Photo by Max Jackson


A rendering of the view from the  Coach's balcony. Image by FAU
A rendering of the view from the Coach’s balcony. Image by FAU

The Florida Atlantic University Owls will be receiving a $16 million gift from the Schmidt Family Foundation to build an athletics facility and academic center which will feature indoor and outdoor football fields, a wellness center, sports medicine center, new and improved weightlifting rooms, and many other amenities.

This is the largest gift in FAU history and the 185,000 square foot project is to begin as soon as the university finds a contractor. The total cost for the facility is expected to fall within the $45-50 million range.

“We’re gonna work aggressively as possible to finish fundraising for this project,” said FAU athletic director Pat Chun on funding for the center.

It is to work in conjunction with other university programs.

“A new model of Division I athletics is integration on campus,” said Chun. “Exercise science is gonna be a big part of this, psychology, nursing, and the school of architecture is gonna be a part of this too as we go along.”

The building is expected to attract recruits from all 21 sports the school offers and to gain national notoriety for the university in the process.

“A large part of this is building a tradition of winning and attracting the best and brightest kids from around the country,” said FAU president John Kelly.

The building will utilize the first floor of the newly constructed parking garage, and the area behind it next to the football stadium. The building will replace the Oxley Center as the main utilized athletic center. It will also allow all FAU sports teams more flexibility in their practice schedules and study times.

“I think it greatly affects us, when we look at scheduling and being able to get different classes and get in the weight room at different times, so it definitely greatly impacts our day-to-day operations,” said FAU women’s basketball coach Kellie Lewis-Jay.

Currently, all 21 FAU sports teams use the Oxley, and the lack of an indoor-football field has created some scheduling conflicts in the past.

“The Oxley is a fine building for a start-up football program, but we understand that we’re no longer a start-up football program,” said FAU football coach Charlie Partridge. “We schedule our [football] practices in the morning just to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms.”

While this announcement may come as a joyous surprise to some, others may be somewhat confused because of the current state of the football team. This past season — their first under Partridge — their record was 3-9, a step back from the previous year where the team went 6-6.

The press release given to media members can be viewed here.