Members of the Missouri State University Board of Governors finance and facilities committee approved a $700,000 project to replace the current Plaster Stadium scoreboard with an LED video board. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

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The Missouri State University Board of Governors is considering investing almost $2.3 million in one-time retention bonuses for all full-time employees. The board’s finance and facilities committee also on Thursday approved spending $2.3 million to install new scoreboards at its football stadium and basketball arena and nearly $460,000 for a track and field throwing facility to be built at Parkview High School and shared by MSU and the Springfield Public Schools District. 

If approved at next month’s full Board of Governors meeting, MSU full-time employees can expect to see a one-time $1,000 retention bonus reflected in their Dec. 31 paychecks, as long as they were hired before April 1 and remained on staff through the end of the year. The proposal is likely to pass.

“The proposed plan has unanimous support from the administrative and academic leadership teams,” according to the meeting agenda. 

The estimated cost of giving each full-time employee a bonus is $2,261,000, and the funds will be drawn from university reserves.

“The board is very supportive of this retention strategy so we will present it as an action item at the June board meeting,” MSU President Clif Smart wrote on Twitter.

At the end of the 2021 fiscal year, MSU had $76 million in the reserve fund, and the agenda states that university reserves will exceed that amount after accounting for the bonus, which is being given at a time when the competitive labor market led Smart to push for an increase in minimum wage for full-time employees while also advocating for increased tuition fees

Along with the discussion of the bonuses, the committee also approved two scoreboard replacement projects that will bring LED video boards to Plaster Stadium and Great Southern Bank Arena and a new throwing facility for track athletes in a current green space on the Parkview High School campus. 

Replacing the scoreboard at Plaster Stadium with a Daktronics LED video board will cost an estimated $700,000, according to the agenda. The funds for the football stadium’s new system will be drawn from the MSU Athletic Department’s marketing budget and the Missouri State University Foundation. 

The Great Southern Bank Arena scoreboard will also be replaced with a Daktronics LED video board at an estimated cost of $1.6 million. Funding to replace the scoreboard comes entirely from the MSU Foundation. 

The throwing field will allow college and high school athletes to compete in javelin, shotput, discus and hammer throw competitions at an NCAA-compliant facility. 

As part of an agreement with Springfield Public Schools, the district will plan and pay for designing, engineering and construction of the project, and MSU will reimburse the costs up to $456,075.  The agreement was approved by SPS board members last month. 

The agreement gives MSU priority to host intercollegiate track and field events over high school events, and also allows university athletes to practice at the throwing field. 

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson