University of North Texas athletics are on a roll. The school now has a plan which UNT sports backers believe will capitalize on that momentum.
"This is a great place," said UNT alum Don Lovelace. "I believe it's one of America's best kept secrets."
Lovelace, a Denton businessman, attended North Texas in the 60s. He's a big supporter of Mean Green athletics. The program is producing many winners these days, including a football team which, despite a close loss Saturday, has a 4-1 record.
"I've been around it for 25, 30 years," he said. "And I've never seen the enthusiasm as high as it is."
Attendance records at Apogee Stadium are falling at Mean Green football games. Other programs are thriving. Lovelace's name graces the UNT softball stadium.
"We're all proud of our university," he said. "And when your leadership steps up as this one has, it's pretty exciting."
Now the school has a blueprint to grow the athletic program. An athletic facilities master plan released Monday is a 20-year blueprint and wish list for new and improved sports facilities on campus. The plan includes new soccer field and track, an expansion of UNT's athletic complex and a new basketball arena. Over the weekend, ground was broken on an indoor practice facility.
"The role that facilities have on recruiting, and the programming we do is really important," said Jared Mosley, associate vice president and chief operating officer for North Texas Athletics. "The differentiator for a lot of these student athletes when they come here is, what do they see?"
The master plan has been in the works for a year. The timing of its release couldn't be better -- especially for attracting donors -- given the program's recent success.
"Momentum and winning always make it easier," Mosley said. "People always want to be part of something that's doing well."
Last month, Lovelace and his wife, Patty, gave the school $2.5 million for the indoor facility, which he said would help UNT compete against the Baylors, Texas Techs and Houstons of the world.
"Let's face it. It begins by recruiting good athletes," he said.
That -- and keeping momentum -- which is already on a roll.
"It's a really good time for UNT athletics."