Gullickson Hall sorely in need of renovation
It's time for the gymnasium in Marshall's Gullickson Hall to become a productive place again.
Actually, it's way past time.
There are only two things the 53-year-old gym is good for these days. ... collecting dust and collecting memories.
Nobody is more aware of that than Danny D'Antoni and me.
Marshall's new head basketball coach used to practice in Gullickson back in the 1960s when he was the Herd's starting point guard. And I used to play intramurals and pickup games there.
Forty-five years later, the place hasn't changed a bit. I think the rims are even the same.
But Gullickson's gym doesn't have to remain an untapped resource.
The Marshall men's basketball program needs a practice facility and a suite of offices designed to complement the program.
A renovated Gullickson Hall gym could house both.
It wouldn't be that difficult or costly if it were done in stages. The first priority would be updating the gym.
"First of all, you've got to air-condition the gym," said D'Antoni. "Then, a brand new floor. Eight 'lift' baskets. Paint it. That would be the main things. It really wouldn't take that much.
"It hasn't changed since I practiced here."
The crux of the matter is Gullickson's gym could and should be utilized better than it is.
"There's no question about that," said D'Antoni. "The question probably will be: Do you invest in it or build new? You don't want to invest in it and, then, build right behind it. I think you have to look at all the different options. And we'll do that. I'm on board."
D'Antoni was referring to the prospect of building an entirely new arena to replace the Henderson Center. It's no secret MU athletic director Mike Hamrick isn't fond of "The Cam" and considers it a, well, green elephant.
Obviously, Hamrick would be reluctant to put money into Gullickson Hall's gym if he planned to raze both it and the Henderson Center.
But what about the time factor?
D'Antoni has a four-year contract that will take him to his 70th birthday. Will money for a new arena be raised by then? Will a site be found by then? Will an arena including a practice gym be constructed by then?
It's very questionable.
Yet, the future is now.
Marshall's basketball program is at a competitive disadvantage now. D'Antoni is trying to revive the program now. MU's administration needs to make a commitment to the basketball program now.
So, what's more important? The $5 million to upgrade Gullickson's gym now? Or $20 million to build a new arena sometime in the future?
"I think everybody at Marshall is on board," said D'Antoni. "It's not like they don't want to do anything. We need to get people here in the stands and fill this place up. Then, there are monies to help.
"Whether you like it or not, your hands are tied by what you can spend. And I think it is a priority to bring this basketball up to speed.
"Gullickson could be an option.
"I know that Mike and Dr. (Stephen) Kopp when they build, they build things right. And they build them to last. So, I trust them. I do know they are behind this program. And they'll make decisions that are best for our program. Something good will happen down the line."
But how far down the line?
None of us are getting any younger.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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