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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More about a potential practice facility for Oakland

I recently sat down with Oakland director of athletics Tracy Huth to discuss the possibility of adding a practice facility on campus. We spoke at length about the possibilities and it was clear the development is very much in the early stages. Below is an excerpt from our interview in which Huth explains the need for such a building.

Is a practice facility something that could become a reality soon?  
“We’ve really taken time over the last few years to look at what it is we really need facilities wise. Based on our facility needs, we’ve looked at a lot of things. If you mention a practice facility, that’s just part of it, to be honest. We’re looking at the concept of a student-athlete development center.
“As we’ve gone through the years here, we’ve seen how we operate and what our needs are and what our student-athletes and what we’re trying to do as far as the provision for our campus community and our students and just what we know the external committee is looking for as well — what is it we would really want to do in order to be able to serve our constituent base and most importantly, our student-athletes.
“The practice facility is part of it, but that’s one of what we recognize as a core component of what we need space-wise. The other piece of that is the academic center. We have well over 300 student-athletes right now and we’re using a converted room or single space of about 700+ square feet to service well over 300 student-athletes. … It’s a real challenge for us to be able to service the academic and student-service needs of our student-athlete population. That’s another core component we’re looking at.
“Another piece of this is that we don’t have adequate locker room space. Our locker room spaces are a community-type locker room with separate little rooms but the showers and sinks, the restroom type area, are just community or shared facility. The size of the space is not appropriate for the size of our student-athlete population. When this building was reconstructed along with the campus recreation facility, we had just over 200 student-athletes. We’ve added sports and student-athletes and so the size of our space and even our office area really does not compute for what we have.
“Those are some of the core component areas. There’s an area of this as to where offices, we have people sharing offices, their ability to meet to meet with student-athletes individually is hampered.
“There’s a lot of needs now based on being 14 years into this and when this building was reconfigured it doesn’t now fit the size and the scope of going from 200 student-athletes to 350 and additional sports.
“The concept has come and you look at it and think ‘What do we need a practice facility for?’ The O’rena is as much a community space as it is a varsity athletic space. It’s used for commencements, convocations and speakers. It’s used for the external community, the internal community. It’s used for a lot of other things than just basketball and volleyball. There’s a situation there that when we have to take that space off-line, it has a direct impact and a negative impact on our student-athletes. During the Republican debate, that facility was off-line for nine days.The only other court space on campus is the recreation center, but that space was taken off-line for much of that time as well. And plus now, you’re into a shared space where you also have the students over there or else we’re finding alternate facilities off campus that we’re trying to use when that space is off-line. … We’re pretty much in the heart of our basketball season (during December commencement) and we’re telling them you can’t have your facility for four days. It doesn’t bode well and you think about our No. 1 priority is the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, we’re really not serving them in that capacity. We also know that part of what we do is serve the mission of this institution and so when we do these other activities, we’re really serving that purpose and the mission of the institution which we want to do and we know is important. It’s just that the effect of that can not be the best thing for our operation.”
Read the story from Saturday's Oakland Press here

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