HATTIESBURG -- Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis announced Monday that $1.6 million will be spent for the renovation of a new football locker room, an expansion of the strength and conditioning center and the development of a nutrition center for athletes.
These projects are in addition to the building of the $2 million Jeff Bower Academic Center for athletes, which was announced earlier this year.
"Today is another game-changing day for our athletics program and for our student-athletes," McGillis said.
"When you look at the combination of The Rock, the Bower Academic Center we're building, the state of the art football locker room, this new nutrition center and the expansion of the strength and conditioning center, the package of the facilities that we will have in football is second to none.
"There may be bigger places, but the quality and functionality and aesthetics of what we're about to have, we won't have to take a back seat to anybody that we compete against."
All renovations announced Monday are expected to be complete before the start of the 2016 football season.
Money for the projects has been donated by James and Tommy Duff and Wade and Dolly Walters.
Work on the strength and conditioning center begins next Monday, as soon as the Southern Miss football team heads to Texas for the Dec. 26 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, and should be complete in six weeks. It will have a new floor, new equipment, new graphics and new offices.
The locker room renovation, with 115 lockers, comes next. McGillis said it will have "bells and whistles" along with teaching and nutrition elements it in.
"This locker room will be as nice as any in the SEC, as nice as any in the Pac-12, as nice as any in America," he said.
The USM football team, during spring football workouts, will use the visitors' locker room in the south end zone of M.M. Roberts Stadium. The locker room renovations should be complete in five to seven months.
The nutrition center will be within the M-Club Room in the Duff Athletic Center. The M-Club will now share the space with the nutrition center, which will include a fueling station where students can pick up fruits, snacks, drinks and supplements. Some scheduled structured meals will be held there and the USM athletic nutrition staff will provide nutrition education in that space.
McGillis also said that funding for the Bower Academic Center is almost complete.
"They're definitely going to be cool so I'm ready to get in them," Southern Miss football safety Picasso Nelson Jr., a sophomore, said about the announced projects.
They're a blessing for football coach Todd Monken, too.
"We're excited about the transformation we're going to have, not only for our current players but for recruiting, and what that will do for our program moving forward. It's going to be as nice as anywhere in the country," Monken said.
Monday's announcement was great news to strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin.
"I haven't met (the Duffs or Walters) yet but I would love to meet them and just say thank you on behalf of all of our student-athletes, on behalf of all of our staff," Woodfin said. "This will take Southern Miss athletics to the highest of levels."
McGillis put the proposed renovations into historical perspective.
"We've been winning for 100 years around here," he said. "We intend to win the next 100 years.
"To have a championship program, you've got to have great facilities. We've had that, we want to sustain that, we want to build upon it. We're on the cutting edge. We want to be ahead of our competition, not even, we want to be ahead of our competition. And we will be."