Jim McElwain has been in Gainesville for just over a year but his thumbprint has already left an indelible image on the University of Florida campus. Rain in north-central Florida can be unpredictable, other than the fact that you know it will rain and rain often. McElwain pushed hard for and got a brand new indoor practice facility built, a feature that was long overdue and McElwain doesn’t want to stop there.
“We have a long ways to go,” McElwain said when asked about Florida’s facilities. “Here’s the good thing. We’re moving in the direction and it’s good to see people have opened, they’re open to listening and open to look and see what we need to do ahead for a long time to come.”
On Monday, McElwain confirmed that Florida would continue to revamp the student living facilities with more upgrades coming to on campus dorms. Florida also is looking in to what kind of construction or upgrade would be feasible to add to the south end zone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, where the football locker, training and weight rooms are housed.
“We have some stuff we want to get done in football. Again what that is, and what that looks like and how much that cost, it’s just too early to tell,” Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said in January. “When we get the master plan and have a chance to discuss it with you we will. But there are some things I think that will enhance what we’re doing in football.”
It’s not so much a “keeping up with the Joneses” for McElwain as it is providing players comfort in the areas of campus where they will spend the majority of their time. The indoor practice facility will keep Florida from missing practice due to rain, but it also shields players from the unbearable Florida heat. The academic center will help with tutoring and study groups and the renovated dorms can and should provide a better, more comfortable home life. Mac is determined to not stop there and will continue to push the envelope of what has been and what could or should be the standard at Florida.
“Now the next thing we have to do is work in the operations center and get some things going there,” said McElwain. “We actually have a couple groups that have been on campus that have done some feasibility studies as to what the exact best thing to do is based on what we have and what we need. I’ll be interested to see when those reports get back.”
The issue in Gainesville is space. The feasibility studies should give McElwain and the University Athletic Association an idea of what is possible to build or renovate with the space given. McElwain’s proclivity shows that he won’t accept no for an answer. Where there’s a will there’s a way and McElwain knows that Florida needs to continue to enhance facilities to continue bringing Florida up to speed with the rest of the league.