Go Tech Go: The Inside Story Behind the Rise of VT Football, Part 17

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Bill Dooley, photo courtesy Virginia Tech Sports photography
Bill Dooley, photo courtesy Virginia Tech Sports photography

Click here for all previous parts of the series

As football coach, Bill Dooley did a lot of good things for Virginia Tech. His connections from his days at North Carolina helped the Hokies get on regional television more often than the past. He instilled a winning attitude, even if it was largely cultivated by playing schools now competing in the Football Championship Subdivision. During his tenure, Tech added 11,000 seats to the East stands of Lane Stadium at cost of $3.2 million, installed permanent stadium lighting at a cost of $500,000, and expanded facilities with the construction of the Jamerson Athletic Center, a cost of $2 million.

There was just one problem: Dooley the athletic director did not have the money to pay for it.

At the time, Virginia Tech’s athletics department operated as a private corporation called the Virginia Tech Athletic Association. (Tech’s Board of Visitors dissolved it effective July 1, 1988, making the Virginia Tech Athletic Department part of the University.) In 1978, Dooley had inherited an operating debt of $188,000. By 1985, the VTAA’s operating debt rose to over $1.1 million. Counting capital debt, the figure was nearly $4.2 million –