The University of Missouri Board of Curators has approved a $200 million athletic facility master plan. The program was jump-started by a $30 million private gift from the Kansas City Sports Trust, which many of us in eastern Missouri know little or nothing about.

This plan is significant for several reasons. The $30 million gift has been identified as the second largest in the history of the university. It also makes a statement to the Southeastern Conference and to others that Missouri is serious in being a major player in the SEC. For recruiting, by adding expanded and new facilities, it is a big plus. For Tiger supporters who attend the athletic contests, it will mean improvements that will benefit them. The plan also will add to the spirit of the university’s students, graduates and other supporters and fans.

More than anything else, the plan is a branding program that serves as a major advertising tool that brings students to the university.

There always are detractors who routinely say the money could be put to better use for the university’s academic program and other student needs. The situation is the culture we live in does include college sports as being important in our recreational lives. Students do benefit by participating in the athletic program whether as a varsity or intramural player. The athletic program builds pride in the university and provides recreational benefits for students.

Truth is the money donated would not have gone to the university if it did not have an athletic program, which has value to all students. It also may not have been donated if MU had not joined the prestigious SEC.

The athletic program is an important component of the university. It has value and MU is enhancing that value by expanding its athletic facilities.