NORMAN — Over the first couple months Headington Hall was open last fall, a clear divide existed between athlete and non-athlete residents.
Oklahoma student-athletes began moving into the new facility in the summer, so when non-athletes joined them, “self-segregation” — as faculty-in-residence Kelly Damphousse called it — came pretty naturally. But by October that tension began to fade, and the 380 residents started embracing the things they all had in common.
“Coming in, I thought they were superstars,” said Guymon native and non-athlete Kaitlynn Maddox. “Why would they want to hang out with the normal people? I definitely thought they wouldn’t want anything to do with us.”
Headington Hall is fully funded and maintained by the athletics department. Impressing football recruits was a major impetus in getting the project off the ground. According to NCAA rules, though, non-athletes must make up at least 51 percent of all campus housing facilities.
Despite the fact that Oklahoma student-athletes represent a minority inside the $75 million, state-of-the-art residence hall that was built for them, non-athletes who lived in Headington Hall during its inaugural year say they didn’t feel like outsiders or unwelcomed.
Many OU athletes have already moved into Headington Hall for the 2014-15 school year, and the non-athletes will be joining them next month.
“There’s really not much of a difference,” said Dallas native Brandon Terrell, who lived in Headington Hall last year. “Throughout the dorm, I mean, I was on the second floor, and there were football guys on my floor, so it’s not like they put all the athletes on their own floors.
“They were right across the hallway from me. They’re treated the same way. They interact with us and talk to us.”
Headington Hall features apartment-style, two- and four-bedroom units. A large dining facility on the first floor is named after 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, who donated $500,000 for the facility. There is also an 80-seat movie theater and a game room, plus several computer labs and study rooms.