During a tour of the Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student Success Center on Monday, Arkansas Athletic Director for Student Development Eric Wood made one thing clear.
That’s there is no Arkansas male or female athlete left behind when it comes to academic, wellness, nutrition and personal and professional development now that the 55,000 square foot building has opened.
“There’s nothing like hearing (Arkansas Athletic Director and Vice Chancellor) Jeff Long say that of all the buildings we have recently built that this is premier piece for him and for all of us,” Wood said. “So when the student-athletes and the recruits and the parents come through and see this, they know we are committed to having the top facility and the resources to provide to their kids.
“If you fail here, you have chosen to fail,” Wood said. “I’m serious…I don’t know there are many departments that have more staff and we definitely have the largest facility and the smartest as it relates to technology.
“And now that it is combined with the sports and nutrition and the wellness piece, I’m telling you there is not like this in the country.”
The facility includes 37 tutor rooms which serve up to 120 student-athletes per day, 5,000 feet of open study and lounge space, three computer labs, three learning labs for Math, Writing and Language and 20 offices for staff and academic counselors.
There’s also a 138-seat auditorium and separate designated areas for Educational Enrichment Services, Student-Athlete Development, a wellness area with a staff psychologist and a dining hall for 225 people.
Arkansas officials visited Oregon, LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Texas A&M, who have similar facilities.
"We visited six or seven other schools around the country and what we found is they had a lot of dark hallways and spaces and they weren't very open," Wood said. "So we asked them to design it like a mall. We want open spaces, we wanted open sightlines to offices and staff members so we could be able to assist them."
All of that serves some 600 athletes or so according to nutritionist Karla Horsfall, who just arrived from Wisconsin about a month ago.
Those athletes can order from an app on their phone and have the food waiting for them at a to-go window.
“They each have their own account and ID and they can pre-plan,” said Horsfalll, who worked two years with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema at Wisconsin.
All athletes can come by a take-out window or come into the dining hall twice a day between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“The athletes have a grab and go window on the outside, but they can also come in here during their day for their fueling and refueling option,” Horsfall said. “We set it up that way because athletes schedules are a little bit more time-consuming and hard to plan around.
“…They are breakfast-based items or lunch-based items...I work with our chef and our team here to develop the menus and make sure they are items that our athletes will eat, but they are also nutritious and perforamance-centered. They are more athlete-centered than general population-centered."
They also have a training table at night from 5-8 p.m.
“It is more of the traditional dinner type meal,” Horsfall said.
The facility also houses the Bob and Marilyn Bogle Academic Facility, which was moved from inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
"We essentially just move our operation from the old facility to here, but we have a more more square footage, a lot more rooms," Wood said. "That space was 15,000 square feet and we are are 55,000 square feet now.
"We had 14 tutor rooms in the whole building and now we have 37 here. We had 34 computers, we have 125 now."
The facility has a sports psychologist who is also a clinical pschyolgoist in Dr. Charles Johnson.
"So they may come in here to work on 'I can't hit the curve ball' or 'I can't hit my free throw' but they may also come in here for mental health reasons."
A view of the dining area inside the new Student-Athlete Success Center
Former Arkansas basketball player Rickey Scott is among the athletes featured on the walls at the Student-Athlete Success Center, which highlights only the academic and not athletic achievements on its walls.
Pictured above is one of the three computer labs available for the student-athletes
Eric Wood, Arkansas' Athletic Director for Student Development, talks about one of the group study rooms.
The facility has several open air studying spaces in addition to enclosed ones.
One of the walls in the Student-Athlete Success Center celebrates Razorback Traditions