Thanks to the generosity of alumnus Gary E. West, the West Liberty University athletic department will have an artificial lighting system in place at historic Russek Field in time for the start of the 2013 football season.
"We are grateful to Gary for his ongoing support and expect this gift of lighting to add a whole new dimension to our football program. Our players, coaches, fans, campus and the entire community thank him for his gift. It will add dramatically to the experience of both the fans and student-athletes," said President Robin C. Capehart.
Russek Field currently features a MondoTurf playing surface and seats 4,000 fans.
The lighting represents Phase Two of the football stadium upgrades funded by West, since the turf, installed in 2008, also was a West gift. This new project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $500,000.
"This field will benefit many individuals and groups besides football athletes. The entire campus community will benefit tremendously. We thank Gary for his ongoing generosity," said Athletic Director Jim Watson.
"This allows our football team to practice in the evening, which is very important with class schedules."
The construction firm selected after bidding the lighting project was Plavchak Construction Company, Jefferson Hills, Pa. The lighting system is designed by Musco Lighting, Canonsburg, Pa. The project should be completed by Sept. 1.
"The addition of new lighting will give us more options when planning our season. This year we'll play our first night game on Halloween against Charleston," said Head Football Coach Roger Waialae, who brings a 53-36 (.596) record into his ninth season leading the Hilltoppers. Kickoff for the Charleston game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The 2013 season will mark the 88th year of intercollegiate football at the university and the Hilltoppers' first season of competition as a charter member of the NCAA's newest Division II all-sports league, the Mountain East Conference.