The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The University of Southern Mississippi Wednesday evening opened the doors for the first time to a completely renovated football locker room in the Duff Athletic Center.
Call it a walk through a Golden Eagle wonderland.
“Does it sound like I have a little pride when I talk about it?” Southern Miss Director of Athletics Bill McGillis asked quietly amidst a jubilant celebration.
“But my joy, my pride, is from all the former players who built this locker room and made it happen, the generous donors who made it happen and these young men playing here today.”
The six-month project came to fruition in large part through the largesse of the building’s namesakes, Jim and Tommy Duff.
“It just doesn’t happen without Jim and Tommy Duff deciding to make it happen,” McGillis said. “What I just told the players is that the project does not happen without the generosity of Jim and Tommy Duff and their families.”
But McGillis said the players who swirled about looking for the locker bearing their names, uniform numbers, signatures, pictures and – somewhat confidently – ring sizes also had a part in the renovation of their home away from the field.
“This also doesn’t happen if (the Duffs) don’t believe in this group of young men, if they don’t believe where we’re headed with this program,” McGillis said. “I told them it is a testament to them that the Duffs have invested in this way to make the project a reality.”
The project, which will come in at about $1.5 million, was overseen by Finlo Corporation, and took about six months to complete.
“To me, we have such a great school, such a great tradition, and now we have another great facility,” Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson said. “For recruiting, it gives you another showpiece, and I really believe it’s going to pay off in the long run, I really do.
“I know the kids are going to be excited to move in. It’s a beautiful facility.”
The bright, open design features 115 individual lockers located within six separate “spokes.”
Each spoke leads to 30-foot-wide hub that features the Golden Eagle logo woven into the carpeted floor as well as glaring down from the lighted ceiling.
The sections are fronted by six panels documenting the program’s history, character and essence.
One features former Golden Eagle quarterback Brett Favre, a recent inductee into the National Football League Hall of Fame. Another features former defensive end Jamie Collins, currently a standout with the New England Patriots.
Another, dubbed the “Aspiration Panel,” hopes to provide inspiration for the future and features the Conference USA championship trophy, a Cotton Bowl trophy and playoff series patch.
Crystal Clear Imaging of New Orleans did the panels, while Mitchell Signs of Meridian did the Golden Eagle looming over the heart of the locker room. The lockers were custom designed and constructed by Hollman, Inc., of Irving, Texas.
McGillis said more “bells and whistles” are on the way, including gaming systems and a state-of-the art sound system. A top-shelf ping pong table already is on site.
Southern Miss senior defensive tackle Dylan Bradley said the new digs should suit the players just fine.
“It’s got to be comfortable for us to be in there because we’re in there a lot,” Bradley said. “You don’t want to be somewhere where it’s too cluttered and not comfortable for everyone.
“This locker room is spacious and open for everybody to enjoy each other, not be too crowded.”