U says new facilities for teams vital in national recruiting game

An athletics official said it’s important to show recruits the University puts money into its sports programs.

Lora Pabst

Today’s student-athlete locker rooms are becoming more extravagant, partly in order to attract top recruits from around the country.

The University is keeping up with its competitors’ facilities by renovating and building top-notch locker rooms for student-athletes.

This year, the women’s basketball team received a new locker-room facility in Williams Arena. The men’s basketball locker rooms are being renovated and the men’s hockey locker rooms were remodeled earlier this fall.

Scott Ellison, associate athletics director for facilities, said that by building and renovating facilities, the athletics department is showing recruits that it puts money into athletic programs.

“Everything is done for recruiting nowadays,” he said.

The hockey locker-room renovations cost between $30,000 and $40,000 and the men’s basketball locker-room renovations cost $500,000. All the money for these projects was raised by the teams and the athletics department, Ellison said.

Liz Eull, chief financial officer for athletics, said the athletics department is responsible for maintaining and operating athletics facilities on campus.

“We ultimately have a responsibility to provide a level of facility that matches the level we’re playing at,” she said.

The University competes with other Big Ten schools to attract recruits, and facilities are an important factor recruits look at, Eull said.

“If you bring student-athletes – 17- and 18-year-old kids – and you show them this is going to be your home Ö and it’s old and dark, kids are going to want to go somewhere else,” she said.

Eull said recruiting is the “lifeblood” of the programs.

Eull said donations make up a big part of the athletics department’s budget.

Mike Halloran, associate athletics director for development, said the men’s and women’s basketball booster clubs were key in raising money for the facilities. He said the leadership of Pam Borton, women’s basketball coach, and Dan Monson, men’s basketball coach, raised interest among potential donors.

“Schools across the country are putting significant funds into facilities, including locker rooms,” Halloran said.

Borton said in a previous interview that the new facility will play an important part in attracting new recruits.

The men’s basketball locker rooms ramain in the same space at Williams Arena. The biggest part of the renovation is a film room for the team and coaches.

Ellison said he hopes the men’s basketball locker-room renovations will be completed by Thanksgiving.

The men’s hockey locker rooms received minor updates and was completed Oct. 1.