Sunday, February 21, 2010

Price of Greatness

So what does $15 million buy you these days? For Indiana, it’s a big jolt for its new multi-million-dollar basketball practice facility. It comes courtesy of the Cook Group, which delivered the biggest gift in the history of the school’s athletics department.

The practice facility, which is set to be completed this spring, will be known as Cook Hall. It’s named for Bill and Gayle Cook, who founded the company and who have been huge contributors to the university over the years.

Cook Hall, which is part of the overall sports complex project that included the renovation to Memorial Stadium, is a 67,000-square-foot testimony to the state-of-the-art sports enhancement.

In other words, it will be big for recruiting. The only thing better would be building a new basketball arena. That would probably run about $150 million and is a down-the-road project, according to athletic director Fred Glass.

Back to the practice facility, which is next to Assembly Hall and will include practice courts for the men’s and women’s programs, locker rooms, coaches’ offices (these offices will have windows, something Assembly Hall offices lack), player lounges, meeting rooms, a training room, a weight room and a Star Trek transporter room to get teams to road games fast.

Sorry. Only kidding about the transporter room. The facility also will feature a Legacy Court that will celebrate IU’s basketball tradition.

Glass said university officials looked at Florida football and North Carolina basketball versions of a Legacy Court, then tried to top it.

If you want to take a look, try the virtual tour at http:/ at Cooks’ contribution -- which will come in $1-million-a-year payments for the next 15 years -- was geared to specifically boost women’s sports.

This certainly pumped IU women’s coach Felisha Legette-Jack, as upbeat a coach as you’re likely to meet.

“With (the Cook family’s) generosity, we are going to continue to grow our program into one of the best in the nation,” she said in a university statement.

Men’s coach Tom Crean, who could really use the second coming of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, also appreciated the donation.

“The Cook family is one of a kind in what they have done for this state, this community, this university and what they plan to do to help our basketball program and athletic department to take steps forward, which will allow us to do great things,” Crean said.

And if the price of greatness is $15 million, well, have you seen the men’s team play lately.

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