Delaware State administration and stakeholders understand that many of the university’s athletic facilities are overdue for upgrades or replacement.
That’s what a recent in-person and virtual meeting covered as school president Tony Allen, athletic director Alecia Shields-Gadson, and athletic transformation committee chairman Steven R. Ewing announced projects underway and coming.
One plan would call for a new grandstand for Alumni Stadium and a fieldhouse for the football team.
“Anyone can come to my house and tell me it’s dirty,” said Ewing, a 1983 Delaware State grad who sold a controlling interest in his automotive business and promptly gave $1 million of that to DSU. “But who’s going to come with a mop and a bucket and help me clean it up?”
Ewing’s $1 million donation was the largest in school history and more than doubled the total alumni donation output for all of 2023, a point of emphasis for the school’s president.
“We can no longer be satisfied with doing more with less,” Allen said. “I can be your cheerleader, but alumni, you have to be the soldiers in the field.”
Joining Ewing on the DSU Athletics Transformation Committee will be former Hornet and Washington Commanders receiver Darnerien McCants and former Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver, who has firsthand experience with HBCU football as an Alcorn State alum.
‘We have to have great facilities’
The projects underway currently include improved locker rooms for football, women’s lacrosse, and women’s soccer, who play their games at Drass Field located at Delaware State’s Downtown Dover campus, as well as an athletics welcome house, a football meeting space and lounge, women’s golf simulator and indoor space renovations at the Downtown campus.
The longer-range projects are the football field house that will house an indoor practice facility and athletic administration offices. The land for that building has already been secured between Alumni Stadium and the women’s softball field.
A new grandstand for Alumni Stadium, which has remained largely unchanged since its opening in 1957, is also on the agenda. Other athletic facilities could be added to the multi-layered plan in the near future.
“We have to have great football and basketball teams and facilities – full stop,” Allen said. “We can’t have parents coming to our campus, coming to our locker rooms, and thinking it’s Dover High School.”
“We have to get better on the field,” Shields-Gadson added. “That takes time and commitment. We are striving to provide our student-athletes with the opportunities to be the best that they can be. We can’t do that if we don’t have the facilities to accommodate that.”
Allen asked Ewing at the Delaware State scholarship ball if he would chair the Athletics Transformation Committee, and Ewing said he would only if he had complete buy-in.
“I met with the board of trustees to look everyone in the eye,” Ewing said, “All of them said, ‘We are in.’ No pushback. From that point on, that’s when I said, ‘They’re committed to this. Let’s do it.’”
The university has raised $10 million to date towards future athletic projects.