By Katie Savinelli
Maryland Athletics announced a fundraising campaign at the start of October to aid in the construction of a basketball center on campus that will serve the men’s and women’s programs, and will cost $36 million. The 60,000 square-foot center will hold two full-size practice courts, a conditioning space for student athletes, facilities for sports medicine and offices for coaches and athletic staff, according to Maryland’s Big 10 homepage. But how will this facility affect the rest of the student body?
For decades, the argument over whether Maryland should be using funding and donations toward academics or toward athletics has prevailed. In this case, it looks as if athletics have won.
“This project has been in various stages of planning for several years,” said director of athletics Damon Evans. “About six months ago, we agreed we could proceed with the project if we could raise the necessary funds. Since that time, [Maryland Athletics] has raised $19 million, giving us great confidence that we can raise the remaining $17 million.”
Maryland is one of only four institutions to have won NCAA championships in both men’s and women’s basketball, according to the Basketball Performance Center page of Maryland Athletics. With such a high level of achievement, Maryland is the only Big 10 school without a dedicated basketball practice facility for both teams.
“The [Xfinity Center] was throwing us out,” said Mark Turgeon, head coach for men’s basketball, at a news conference October 8. “They were throwing us out because they were closing down because of finals. So we had one hour [for practice], and we were preparing for a pretty big college basketball game last year over Christmas. This building is going to allow those days to go away. So, it’s a needed building.”
Whether or not the building is truly needed, various students are concerned about the construction on campus.
“I feel as though there are two sides to UMD as a whole,” sophomore Aaron Merlos said. “One side is focused on taking pride in their academics, such as their business school, and being a research university. The other side is solely trying to complete to have the most/best facilities compared to other big-name schools.”
It is very likely that the construction of the performance center will close off certain areas of campus, such as the parking lots around the Xfinity Center. It is unconfirmed whether parking for student commuters and professor will be compromised. In addition, soccer fields nearby that many club and intramural teams play on may be closed off.
“They’re shifting towards highlighting their athletics over their academics and having more pride in showcasing how much they have to offer in athletics,” said Merlos. “Which is why there is so much expansion towards athletic facilities.”
The plan will be funded through donations and other athletic revenues, according to the Maryland Athletics homepage. With the construction expected to take three years, the project will be co-managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, according to the Maryland Athletics homepage.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Basketball’s Facebook page.
Katie Savinelli is a sophomore multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.