Sooner Center should help in recruiting wars
OSU jumped in with a $260 million upgrade to Lewis Field, reopened in 2008 as Boone Pickens Stadium.
Two months ago, OU countered, approving designs for a new $75 million dormitory, which school officials believe will give the Sooners an edge in recruiting.
The “Sooner Center” is expected to be ready for occupancy for the fall semester of 2013, and will house close to 200 athletes, including the football freshmen and possibly sophomores. The other 51 percent of the dorm will comprise non-athletes, in accordance with NCAA rules.
While OSU will be able to continue recruiting to its stately football stadium, OU will soon be able to recruit to a state-of-the-art housing facility, which will include a dining hall, computer labs, gaming room and, perhaps the coolest part, a shopping strip on the bottom floor that figures include a convenience store, a coffee shop, a deli and possibly more.
Funding for the Sooner Center will come from private donations through the athletic department, which has already launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of at least $20 million. The rest of the cost will be covered by athletic department savings bonds, according to school officials.
Athletic director Joe Castiglione claims this dorm “will rival any of its peers nationally.”
Which should give OU another edge in recruiting.
The 33-year-old Bud Wilkinson House, once an all-athlete dorm with a plush setup that used to be the envy of every football program during the Barry Switzer era, had become outdated.
The most valuable element of the Bud was its location, across Jenkins Avenue from the Switzer Center.
The230,000 square foot Sooner Center, however, will be about as close, starting on the corner of Jenkins and Lindsey, running through where the old O’Connell’s Irish Pub & Grille used to be. The university has purchased rental properties and shopping areas on the same block where the dorm will stretch to. Because of its location, the Sooner Center will be within a mile of all of the school’s athletic facilities.
OU is able to recruit to a lot of things. Tradition. The chance to win a national title. A track record of getting players to the pros. A stable coaching staff.
Before long, OU will be able to recruit to its living quarters, too.
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