The purpose of the celebration at the Moore’s Opera House on the University of Houston Campus was the school’s invitation to join the Big East Conference. That move will mean millions more in television revenue, plus the added prestige that will come with national exposure.
But the big news today was the announcement the school hopes to break ground a new football stadium late next year. Athletic Director Mack Rhoades says much of the funding will come from the private sector.
"Right now, we have $45 million in very firm pledges and we’re working hard to finalize those signatures, and then about another $12- 15 million in terms of verbal pledges that we’ll begin to again firm up in the next couple months. Then we’ll continue to try to raise money."
With construction beginning as early as next winter. That would mean Houston’s would have to play its first year in the Big East in another stadium.
"Somewhere else yet to be determined. Publicly we’ve had discussions with Reliant and that seems to be our best option right now."
The construction of a new stadium could put more pressure on the football program to succeed. Something that will certainly be more difficult with the school’s all time passing leader Case Keenum graduating and the possible departure of head coach Kevin Sumlin, who is rumored to be near the top of the list for other coaching vacancies.
"When you have success, people are going to come after your coaches. Bottom line. We’re not the only institution that deals with that. And it doesn’t matter what level. You can be at the University of Oklahoma and they’re talking about your football coach going to another school or going to the NFL."
Regardless of who the coach or quarterback is, Houston is sure to get a large boost by moving to the Big East. University President Renu Khator was at the University of South Florida when it moved into the Big East
"I can certainly tell you at the University of South Florida it made a huge difference. All the markers moved in a very positive direction . So we are here in Houston, which means we have double advantage, and we will definitely be a different place four years down the road."
Dr. Renu Khator had one other thing to say as well:
" GO COOGS!"