Southern Miss unveiled its new locker room renovations on Aug. 24, soon after the first football practice of the school year. The renovations cost the athletic program approximately $1.4 million and will be used immediately.
“The [team] did a phenomenal job in this hub and in the graphics throughout of capturing the essence of Southern Miss football,” said Athletic Director Bill McGillis.
“The athletic department had been working on the revamping of the locker room since February of this year after the team came off of its 9 – 5 season and berth in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Washington.”
The lockers include individual players’ names, hometowns and the previous school they attended as a place holder above their locker for an individualized look.
“A lot of attention was paid to the detail of the locker,” McGillis said. “We gave them one heck of a challenge.”
The six-wall project also includes quotes from former players and opponents, a mural of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and another mural of Pro Bowl linebacker and Super Bowl champion Jamie Collins. The second wall in particular was one of McGillis’ favorite to expound upon.
“We wanted to capture history,” McGillis said. “We wanted a second wall that told today’s story of the last 20 years of championship football that represented who we are – the winningest program in Mississippi in 20 year. Bowl games, bowl wins and total wins, it’s Southern Miss not anybody else.”
With new facilities combined with a bounce-back season, the team is hoping to make the right strides when it comes to things like recruiting and player retention.
“I know the players that are going to follow [through] are going to benefit from it,” McGillis said. “I know that it is going to be a game-changer in recruiting.”
In a way to emphasize the project’s individuality, McGillis added a custom-designed pingpong table specifically for Southern Miss. It is the only custom-designed pingpong table made by Killerspin in the country.
“The only program in college football to have a custom pingpong table from Killerspin, a company out of Chicago,” McGillis said hinting in a joking tone. “In addition to having a championship football team, I’m fully expecting to having the strongest table tennis team in America right here at Southern Miss.”
Not only is the locker room being renovated, the program is funding the addition of the Jeff Bower Academic Center for athletes, which is still under progress. Also, a special developmental nutrition center for athletes is in the works.
“We got some bells and whistles, and we got some more bells and whistles coming,” McGillis said. “They don’t invest in this level if they don’t believe in this football.”