The Collegian
Saturday, July 04, 2020

Renovations made to basketball facilities

As renovations to the varsity basketball suite in the Robins Center begin, Richmond men's coach Chris Mooney and women's coach Michael Shafer anticipate the project's recruiting benefits and overall contributions to the campus community.

The teams' recent accomplishments will be highlighted by new flooring, paint, furniture, media and graphics in their offices and locker rooms, said David Walsh, deputy athletic director, who is heading the project for the athletic department. The renovations are seen as a sign of commitment by the university toward both basketball teams, he said.

"I can walk around our campus with recruits almost on a weekly basis and there's something new being done, improved, upgraded on this campus every single week," Shafer said. "To me it almost feels like it's our university philosophy that we're going to try to give everybody the best; it's our turn now."

The basketball suite houses both the men's and women's programs. It includes offices for the head and assistant coaches, the director of basketball operations, a coaches' conference room and a recruiting room. The suite renovations are to be finished by late February, while both the men's and women's locker rooms are to be completed after basketball season, Walsh wrote in an email.

"I think you want to make sure your offices represent who you are as a program, much like on campus," Mooney said. "Part of the reason the buildings Richmond builds are so nice and so wonderful is that you want them to represent the student body and what everybody hopes to be."

Both coaches said the renovations were a benefit toward recruiting student athletes. Updates in technology will enhance the ability for coaches to scout tape and make presentations to recruits, Walsh said.

"Recruiting is one of those things that is very detail orientated." Shafer said. "At the same time presentation is incredibly important. When you walk in the [new] lounge, you will be blown away. That commitment by the administration is something that the recruits will see."

While the benefits of the new renovations are important, both coaches said they expected recruits to look at all parts of the university. Shafer said a strong academic environment could complement a committed athletic program and provide a feeling of security for recruits. He said the quality of academics was important to recruits, such as Genevieve Okoro, who he took to the Gottwald Center for Sciences on her tour as a recruit.

"Our school, our coaches pride ourselves on being able to have such great academic programs and such a competitive athletic program," Okoro said. "It's really nice to be able to have recruits and say that we just renovated all this stuff... but I think for a lot of people who come here, the first and foremost thing is the degree that they get when they come out."

Mooney said although the renovations would contribute to campus aesthetics, it would not be the deciding factor for a student athlete to attend Richmond.

The new spaces are designed to be more attractive to recruits and to enhance the facility for student athletes. More efficient study space and technology, such as televisions, are included in the plans, Walsh wrote.

Walsh said the changes were occurring mid-season to make daily operations more efficient and become more attractive for recruiting purposes. He added that the project began as soon as approval was received.

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Both the women's and men's staff will be housed in offices in Millhiser Gym until the Robins Center renovations are complete, Walsh wrote.

Shafer said it was easier for the coaches to adapt than it would be to dislodge the teams from their locker rooms at this time. "It's an inconvenience," he said, "but it's going to be an inconvenience whenever we do it. But it's a positive inconvenience. It's something that we're all excited about."

Both coaches said they were excited about the renovations and what they meant for the future of both basketball programs. Mooney said in addition to an exciting feel, he hoped to see the new design spell out success and forward-thinking.

Shafer said administrators, including President Ayers, had made distinct commitments toward the basketball teams' success. "As times change and things grow, people need resources and we have been fortunate enough to have been given those resources by this university," he said. "It's now on our hands to make sure we continue down that path."

Contact reporter Chrissy Wengloski at christine.wengloski@richmond.edu

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