- This week, Louisiana State University unveiled its newly renovated $28 million – around R400 million – football locker room.
- The news went viral and elicited anger and criticism from students and faculty who wanted to see that money go towards academics rather than sports.
- Top-tier college sports programs in the United States have drawn controversy over expensive facilities, lavishly paid head coaches, and its refusal to pay players.
- Those in support of the locker rooms, including current LSU football players, rebutted the criticism by pointing out the funding came from private donations.
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How much does a locker room renovation at an American university cost? In Louisiana State University' case, the bill came out just north of $28 million, or around R400 million.
The hefty sum went towards offices, a training room, a players lounge, and a cafeteria, according to the US university's website.
The locker room also includes purple plush chairs that recline into sleeping pods, described by the LSU Football department as a "cross between first class cabin on an airplane and a space station from a science fiction film."
One varsity player, JaCoby Stevens told LSU media reporter Cody Worsham that the locker room would be his new base.
"There's no point in going home …. I got everything I need right here."
Sports at tertiary education institutions in the United States have been criticised for benefiting from mammoth levels of revenue while refusing to pay their players and reportedly failing to ensure they receive a quality education. Ironically, the highest paid public employee in most US states is often a university's head football coach. Ed Orgeron, LSU's head coach, was estimated to have made $3.5 million (nearly R50 million) in 2018 - $3.3 million more than the state's governor.
Not all students were thrilled with the locker room update. LSU rising senior Cat Mckinney tweeted a photo of the school's water-logged library alongside the gleaming new sports space.
LSU did not immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment about conditions at their library.
Another Twitter user complimented the facility but quickly said the funds could be better off utilised elsewhere.
Donâ€™t get me wrong- the locker room is amazing...but could you imagine how awesome it would be if we invested the same type of money into education?— Jay Barbuto (@JayBarbuto) July 22, 2019
In total, the locker room reveal garnered more that 1,500 responses - many of them critical.
And if you ever wanted to know why a college education has gotten so expensive.— Matt nug (@MatthewNug) July 22, 2019
LSU football grad and current Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid voiced his own opinion, criticising schools for not paying their players.
LSU communications professor Robert Man criticised the athletic spending, noting that his offices weren't up to par with the new locker rooms.
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