The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

June 4, 2013

Marshall ‘Vision’ a reality

Construction of several athletic facilities has athletic director excited

GRANDVIEW — When Mike Hamrick took over as Marshall’s athletic director in July 2009, there were visions of what sort of things had to be done to help the university be competitive in the college sports world.

Visions of Herd Nation, wishes that seemingly fell on deaf ears of the administrators who came before Hamrick.

Not quite four years later, well over $30 million have been spent to change those visions from the abstract form to concrete — not to mention lots of dirt.

From a new soccer complex on the site that once held the storied Veterans Memorial Field House, to a long-coveted indoor practice facility, Marshall athletics are on the move, at least in the facility sense.

It’s all part of the Vision Campaign, a fundraising effort co-charied by former Marshall and NFL quarterback Chad Pennington and current Los Angeles Lakers coach and Mullens native Mike D’Antoni.

Hamrick, who addressed Thundering Herd fans at the 23rd annual Beckley Athletic Club of Marshall University Big Green Golf Outing, again voiced his enthusiasm about the direction everything is headed.

“It’s an exciting time,” Hamrick said at Grandview Country Club. “Right now, on campus, there are about $33 million worth of new athletic facilities. From the new level of (luxury) suites (at Joan C. Edwards Stadium), which we have already sold, to the $8 million soccer complex. The turf is down and the lights are up; it’s really taking shape. And last week they started breaking ground on the indoor athletic facility.”

The IAF has been the crown jewel of every Marshall supporter’s dreams for years and is finally coming to fruition. It will consist of a 120-yard football field and a six-lane, 300-meter track, but connected to it will be a 19,000-square-foot sports medicine research center and 14,000-square-foot student-athlete academic center.

“And something that we desperately need and have never had is a hall of fame,” Hamrick said. “It’s kind of like a museum-like hall of fame that will feature all of our great student-athletes. As you and I stand here today, the ground is being broken.”

Hamrick takes absolutely zero credit for the advancement that is ongoing. If not for the generosity of Marshall donors, none of it would be possible.

The Clendenin native and former Marshall linebacker said $10 million in private donations have been received. The Greenbrier owner and CEO Jim Justice was recently revealed as donor of $5 million toward the IAF.

Not included in that $10 million is a donation by Chris Cline, a Beckley native and coal magnate and philanthropist who gave $5 million toward sports medicine research through the Cline Family Foundation two years ago. He gifted that same amount that went into an endowment that was matched by the state of West Virginia.

“If you count that, we’re over $20 million (in private donations),” Hamrick said.

Justice was the guest speaker at a Big Green dinner at The Greenbrier last Saturday.

“We are so appreciative of him,” Hamrick said. “He is a Son of Marshall.”

By the time it’s all said and done, Huntington will have the look and feel that a competitive college sports town needs.

“Everybody always asks me, ‘Mike, when’s it going to be finished?’” Hamrick said. “I’m not worried about that. I was always worried about when it was going to get started. And here today, I can tell you it’s all started.”

— E-mail: gfauber@

register-herald.com

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