NORMAN — Sterling Shepard seriously considered moving off campus for his second year of college.
Then the OU sophomore wide receiver took a look at Headington Hall and decided one more year in student housing might not be so bad.
“It doesn't get much better than this,” Shepard said. “You have everything you could want in this building. You even have a movie theater. What do you not have?”
OU opened its new, $75 million residence hall Sunday, when students began moving in for the fall semester. The state-of-the-art structure, located at the corner of Jenkins Avenue and Lindsey Street, will be fully funded and operated by the OU athletic department.
In accordance with NCAA rules, the general student population will make up 51 percent of Headington Hall residents, while 49 percent will be student-athletes.
“This is the first time we've ever been able to get all our incoming student-athletes under the same roof,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione.
Headington Hall features apartment-style, two- and four-bedroom units for its 380 occupants. On the first floor, there is a large dining facility named after 2008 Heisman Trophy winner and St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who donated $500,000 for the building, plus a theater, game room, several computer labs and study rooms.
Despite all the impressive amenities, though, Shepard was quick to pronounce the individual restrooms as his favorite component of Headington Hall. He'll room with fellow OU receiver Durron Neal, who was also his roommate last year in Bud Wilkinson Hall.
“That's definitely the best thing,” Shepard said with a laugh. “You get your own space. You don't have to wait on one guy to take a shower. Durron and I did good about it, but now it's just, if we're about to go out, I can get my shower and he can get his.”
Castiglione and football coach Bob Stoops have frequently used the phrase “game changer” to describe the impact they expect Headington Hall to have for OU's athletic department, in terms of recruiting, convenience and comfort for student-athletes.
“Few places have a chance to put everything under one roof and located so perfectly right in the basic center of the campus where people can walk to class easily,” Castiglione said. “Student-athletes can get to many of the athletic facilities in which they train or in some cases compete. The various elements of this facility — one in particular would be the dining facility — that has been really an expression of everything state-of-the-art about nutrition opportunities.”
Castiglione added that he hasn't come across another facility in the country that compares to Headington Hall.
“I think it really sets the standard,” Castiglione said. “Anytime we try to do something here at Oklahoma, it's to create a standard of excellence and to uphold anything that allows us to pursue excellence. I think at this point, it stands alone in its uniqueness, its sustainability, its services to the students who live here and use it on a daily basis.”