Starting with the 2009 season, Louisiana Tech's championship track and field programs had a state-of-the-art facility to call home.
For decades the programs had overcome an outdated facility adjacent to Joe Aillet Stadium on Louisiana Tech's campus, still managing to win several championships. That all changed in March 2008 when construction began on a new facility.
Since the sport of track has changed drastically from the time the old track at Tech was constructed in the 1970s, several updates were needed. Furthermore, because the new track was being built in the same area as the previous one, the old track needed to be completely removed. Not that the old facility didn't enjoy its time in the sun; on the contrary, it hosted the three Southland Conference Championships as well as the 1991 American South Conference Championships.
One of the many upgrades with the new track is a practice field in the middle, which can be used for soccer and football. To accommodate the need, the new track needed to be wider than the previous one.
"The new facility allows us to practice better and more efficiently," Tech head men's and women's track coach Gary Stanley said. "It also contains several throwing and jumping areas so our teams can practice at the same time."
Completed in August 2008, the new Jim Mize Track and Field Complex includes a modern drainage system, a much bigger high jump apron and a new location for the steeplechase course. Previously on the outside of the track, the steeplechase pit has been moved on the inside, similar with most tracks.
The updated facility allowed Louisiana Tech to host the 2010 Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships where the Lady Techsters won their seventh consecutive outdoor title and their 11th WAC title in 12 tries. Head coach Gary Stanley believes the new tartan surface track will not only benefit his teams physically, but psychologically. "The facility benefits us after we come home from a meet," Stanley said. "Now, we know we are coming home to a facility that is on par with the facilities we typically see."
The new facility also contains the resources needed to adapt to changes in the wind. For instance, if wind is present, the javelin, discus and shot put events can occur from two different areas. For runners, the starting blocks can be moved depending on the direction of the wind as well. "Without a doubt, the new track facility will make a difference with recruits," Stanley said. "We now have a first class facility for our athletes who are getting a first class education and that is something we really stress in our program." Along with the new track is a new sand volleyball court located on the north end of the track. Like the new track, the volleyball court can also be illuminated.
The court will be used for intramural sand volleyball and as a training tool for the football team.
On Nov. 1, 2008, Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau announced that the track facility would once again be named the Jim Mize Track and Field Complex. Mize attended Tech as an athlete from Fair Park High School in Shreveport, La. and later came back to the university as a coach. He coached football alongside Aillet and Maxie Lambright for 24 years. During his time at Tech, Mize also built a consistent track program. As a track coach, he won conference championships in 1961, 1973 and 1974.