Baylor University is creating a new professional locker room space to accommodate the increasing number of NFL players returning to their alma mater for off-season training.

The university Thursday announced a $500,000 gift from Silsbee philanthropist Charline Dauphin to create the Charline Dauphin Pro Locker Room.

The space will be built in the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center at the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Complex. The work is expected to be completed by December.

Pro athletes now use Baylor’s existing locker room space or temporary accommodations, Athletics Director Ian McCaw said.

“We do, periodically through the off-season, have our former players come back to want to work out and practice, and so to give them a dedicated space to do that is attractive to them and will encourage them to return to Baylor more often, and that’s a win-win,” McCaw said.

This spring, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams all worked out at Baylor.

McCaw said the new locker room could bolster recruiting efforts for the football program, increasing the chances for Baylor players to meet alumni who are experiencing success in the NFL.

“Certainly that’s something that motivates our current student athletes and encourages recruits relative to their futures,” McCaw said.

McCaw said Dauphin, who created the Texas Home Health network with her late husband, Sidney, shares a friend with Coach Art Briles, who came up with the vision for the pro locker room.

Sidney “Chief” Dauphin played football at Tyler Junior College before finishing his education at East Texas State College (now Texas A&M University-Commerce), and later coached football at Silsbee High School, according to a Baylor press release.

“It is important that all of our players stay connected with our program after they leave Baylor, because they are an important part of our football and university family,” Briles said in the press release.

“We want our players, past and present, to always feel the family atmosphere — this locker room will keep us connected.”

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