BPF will be a reality

The Ole Miss athletic administration has been planning a basketball practice facility for several months - well before the men's team won 21 games and the women advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament this year. With that recent success, however, the spotlight burns brighter on the needed facilities' upgrade.

Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone, with the blessing of Chancellor Robert Khayat, is about to embark on another major facilities' upgrade/project.

Even though the baseball stadium is getting a $14 million facelift/renovation/addition, the athletic administration building is about to be completed to the tune of nearly $6 million, and the FedEx Academic Center is rounding the corner and heading for home, basketball will finally get part of its due.

For several months, there have been tidbits here and there about advance planning for a basketball practice facility - a separate building away from Tad Smith Coliseum that will accommodate all the needs of the basketball teams similar to the IPF for football.

It appears, by all accounts and from every angle in the Ole Miss hierarchy, that "planning" is about to become "doing."

A fund-raising plan is in place for the estimated $10 million facility and architect's renderings are due in the next couple of weeks.

There are some financial/fundrasing issues to resolve, but from all indications Khayat and Boone are moving forward with the project.

While exact details of the facility are still a little sketchy, we've been told by inside sources that Men's Coach Andy Kennedy has signed off on the preliminary plans and rough drawings and Women's Coach Carol Ross is expected to do the same after her season is over. (As you know, the Lady Rebs are headed to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after their stunning win over defending national champs Maryland last night.)

During the fall of 2006, Ole Miss administrators toured similar basketball facilities on other campuses - Florida's being chief among those.

Meanwhile, Loyalty Foundation Executive Director George Smith was busy planning the fund-raising drive.

Our understanding is the facility will be built directly across from the Gillom Women's Complex. It will match the architecture of the campus, with a brick exterior and a columned entrance.

It will be roughly 45,000 square feet replete with two full courts, coaches' offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms, training room, weight room, equipment rooms, state-of-the-art video equipment, lounges, etc.

In short, it will a first-class complex similar to the IPF.

Without any unexpected setbacks, the year-and-a-half project is hoped to be completed by the fall of 2008.

There has also been considerable discussion and planning for some renovations to Tad Smith Coliseum, but the powers-that-be are still in the decision-making process in terms of the order of importance of the needed renovations/improvements.

From all the feedback we've been able to get, the BPF will be a reality.

It's a go. It will be done and it must be done.

Kudos to our leaders for addressing the need.

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