Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw was on the Sports Talk Garage podcast this week to discuss an array of topics related to Liberty Athletics, and he provided some very interesting answers concerning Liberty’s future, the possibility of joining a conference, and upcoming construction projects.
“We feel very good about where we are right now,” McCaw stated when asked about Liberty’s current position as an FBS Independent and ASUN member. “Long-term, we do feel that Liberty has Power 5 potential, but that is a very challenging transom to crossover. There have not been, to date, invitations from non-Power 5 schools to join Power 5 conferences. We know that is a steep hill to climb. We are just trying to get better each day.”
Prior to announcing the move to the FBS ranks as an Independent in February 2017, Liberty had flirted with the Sun Belt Conference for several years but never received the necessary votes to be included. Now, the Flames have the potential as an FBS Independent to vault past the ceiling the Sun Belt offered and become one of the best G5 teams in the country, a goal current football head coach Hugh Freeze has publicly stated numerous times.
“Certainly, we will look for opportunities,” McCaw said in the interview about conference affiliation. “If something in the American Athletic Conference, for example, were to open up, that would be something we would need to carefully evaluate, but Liberty is thriving right now. We just want to continue to grow, and we feel we can do that very well as an FBS Independent and an ASUN member.”
The AAC is an attractive option and could be a realistic one as well as they look to possibly replace UConn, who announced this summer it was heading to the Big East. UConn’s departure leaves the AAC with 11 teams beginning in 2020. While the conference recently received a waiver from the NCAA to host a conference title game in 2020 and 2021 despite having the 12 teams required by NCAA rules for a championship tilt.
Liberty would be a viable candidate for the league and provide close neighbors for AAC members East Carolina and Navy. The growth the athletic department has had over the past decade, and really the past three years, has been unheard of.
“The last 3 years have been amazing,” said McCaw. “We opened about $150M worth of new athletic facilities in such a short period of time. I’m not sure there’s a school in the country that’s done more construction than we have in this recent window. And, of course, we’re not finished yet.”
Some of these enhancements have included a new Indoor Football Practice facility, an expansion to 25,000 seats to Williams Stadium, and the Liberty Arena which is expected to open next Fall. Liberty is also currently upgrading the Liberty Football Center which houses coaches’ offices, the locker room, and weight room.
“We’re finishing up the Liberty Football Center and then we will immediately turn our attention to phase 3 of Williams Stadium operation,” McCaw stated on the Sports Talk Garage podcast. “Working on substantial upgrade on the west side including some suites, loge boxes, enhancing those spaces, that will be a big addition for us, as well.”
McCaw also mentioned the upcoming indoor tennis facility which has already been announced, and he stated the administration will be looking into an indoor softball facility “that has been on the drawing board for a while” and possibly some improvements to the golf facility.
“At that point, we are really in great shape across the board in terms of our facilities,” he stated. “We will continue to look at the master plan and some minor renovations from time to time, but our facilities are in the high end. They are not holding us back at all.”