Tech Athletics celebrates Grand Opening of new Basketball Office Complex
Apr 22, 2009
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Nearly 400 people were on hand Monday
afternoon for the ribbon cutting and Grand Opening of the new
Basketball Office Complex in Eblen Center. A column (below) in the
Cookeville Herad-Citizen, written by Thomas Corhern, details the
events of the day.
Image is everything for Tech
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By Thomas Corhern Herald-Citizen Assistant Sports Editor
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009
For Tennessee Tech athletics, it's been a long time coming.
Through the fundraising efforts, through the designs and
blueprints, through the groundbreaking, through the construction,
through the decoration -- after all of those were completed and $2
million spent to do the work, just one more thing remained.
Unveiling it all to the public.
Tech athletics director Mark Wilson and the Golden Eagle athletics
staff did just that Monday, opening the doors to the new and
improved Hooper Eblen Center to a throng of Tech athletic
From the lobby welcoming the fans with the visage of the Tech
logo, to upgraded trophy cases, to a radically redesigned Eagles'
Nest to the new basketball coaching complex -- complete with the
athletic director's skybox overlooking the Eblen Center's
"We were thrilled with the response," Wilson said. "Certainly, we
appreciated all the university people and the community that came
out to join us on the joyous occasion. But it really couldn't have
been done without the help of our benefactors and our donors. We
really appreciate the people who step forward to help us with these
projects and we're looking forward to people continuing to support
us as we take on new initiatives."
It's turning the old new again, and it gives a facelift to what is
already more than 30-year-old building, continuing the process
started with the updated graphics on the court and new goals to
complete the theme.
"It doesn't look like the same building anymore," Wilson said. "We
know this building has a lot of great years left. We wanted to make
sure that the improvements that we made were something that were
going to last for the rest of the lifespan of this building and to
modernize it, bring it up to the standards of college athletics
But the process did not start with the Eblen Center.
"We've done work at Tucker Stadium including the turf and the
track," Wilson said. "We've upgraded the lighting to
broadcast-quality lighting. We upgraded the coaches' offices and
the locker rooms, among many other improvements we have done. We
have just tried to keep following our strategic plan, find and
identify other sources of funding to help us achieve the goals that
we have for our intercollegiate athletics facilities."
As Tech's first full-time athletic director since Dave Coffey in
the '80s, Wilson has strived to put Golden Eagle athletics on the
When I was a student-worker in the athletic department during
Wilson's first year, I remember a conversation we had at the time
discussing media guides and we agreed on a common statement --
Image is everything.
"First impressions are important," Wilson said. "With many of our
facilities, so much of it is about recruiting. But it's also about
operational efficiencies and how we coach and train our
student-athletes. We think all the plans we have in place take that
into consideration. Certainly, this new basketball complex will
allow our coaches to be more efficient -- we think the more
efficient they are, the better the chance for them to have
"We believe it's a 'wow' space. When recruits -- not just
basketball, but all sports -- visit the facility improvements that
we have, they say 'Wow.' It doesn't matter if a softball or
baseball recruit takes a look at Tucker Stadium -- they say 'That's
a beautiful place,' and they see that we have a commitment to
successful athletics at Tennessee Tech."
And it all started with something as simple as a logo three years
That logo, part of a major branding initiative, itself features as
a major part in the renovations to the Eblen Center, from the
aforementioned lobby floor, to the glass doors entering the Eagles'
Nest, even to the trash cans in the building.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a tearful Wilson gave Tech
president Bob Bell one of those trash cans, because "he didn't
throw the idea into the trash," a thank-you for believing in what
Tech athletics is trying to do.
Obviously, there are still things that need to be worked out, but
through the department's fundraising efforts, things are starting
to fall into place.
And the just competed additions are just the tip of the
Another groundbreaking could happen in the coming months for the
new strength and conditioning center behind the Tech baseball and
"That's what we're working on," Wilson said. "We're identifying
funding. We have that project already disclosed to the Tennessee
Board of Regents and we're working through the approval processes
so we can move quickly on that project as soon as we can."
But all of this shows a commitment to the student-athletes and to
It would have been so easy to just keep going through the motions,
making do with what they had and being content with that.