- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - The University of Louisiana at Monroe’s athletic department has received the largest donation in its history.

Jason Bullock, president of JPS Aviation/JPS Equipment Rentals, donated $450,000 to the school Monday. The gift will pay for the new FieldTurf at Malone Stadium.

The new turf, which is used by 23 NFL teams, will span 78,000 square feet and is the same surface that is played on at Wake Forest, which will open the season at Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 28. Other schools to use the surface include Louisville, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Texas Tech and Wisconsin.

Installation will begin after the Warhawk’s spring game in April.

The News-Star (http://tnsne.ws/1lxstdH) reports the donation will also give Malone Stadium’s field the new name of JPS Field and the naming rights will last a minimum of eight years

“We’ve been in the community for a lot of years and own a couple of businesses here locally, and my father and I have been big components of giving back to the community,” Bullock said. “I think it’s important to support local universities, both Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech and other worthwhile causes across the region.”

Bullock is a Louisiana Tech graduate but moved to Monroe in 2002 to be closer to the airport and help oversee the JPS businesses. He said he’s already been teased by his Tech friends about giving to Louisiana-Monroe, but Bullock believes both universities need support.

Athletic Director Brian Wickstrom met Bullock soon after taking the job in July. The two started talking about the field turf about three months ago, and he said it didn’t take long to convince Bullock to climb on board.

Two of the biggest selling points was head football coach Todd Berry and the research on the safety of players pertaining to different types of turf.

“I didn’t realize the condition of the field in its current state,” Bullock said. “Certainly after talking to coach Berry - who we are extremely lucky to have - there is an obvious need to improve the conditions, not only for recruiting but for player safety for practice and for game days, so it just made sense to me.”

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com

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