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Athletic department finds temporary home

April 5, 2007

In early March, a move was approved that will place the UW-River Falls Athletic Department under one roof at the former site of the leadership center in Hagestad Hall.

No specific date has been set for the move to take place, but the goal is sometime in May.

While the proposed new health and human performance (HHP) facility is moving its way through various stages of approval, this new site should be a solid temporary fix for a department that has long been scattered around campus.

“We’ve never really had a home,” Athletic Director Rick Bowen said. “This provides us an opportunity to have our own space.”

The athletic department is currently sharing Karges Center with the health and human performance department, so this change will also fulfill HHP’s need for more room.

“It’s a win-win situation for both of us,” Bowen said. “It frees up space for HHP, it gets our head men’s basketball coach out of our basement and it brings over our football office,” Bowen said.

Head men’s basketball coach Jeff Berkhof said he has had to hide in the Karges Center’s basement since joining the staff and now has his opportunity to see some sunlight.

“It will be nice to get out of the basement,” Berkhof said. “We’re too spread out and this will let people know where we’re at.”

Berkhof said he feels having a centralized location will provide the department with an identity it didn’t previously have.

With this move, the football office also gets their opportunity to move out of the basement.

Senior Falcons offensive lineman Nathan Tenut said he believes it will be a positive move because it will bring things closer together and be a nice, professional place for potential recruits to visit.

However, he is quick to point out that privacy could quickly become an issue. The football team isn’t used to sharing space because they have had their own section of the South Hall basement.

“We get loud when we’re watching film,” Tenut said. “In South Hall we had a lot of privacy and didn’t have to watch our volume.”

Tenut said he thinks if there isn’t any noise complaints this will be a very strong step forward for the department.

“If we don’t bother anyone, then the move will be good,” Tenut said.

Bowen gives Mary Halada, vice chancellor for administration and finance, and Chancellor Don Betz a lot of credit.

Administration has made it a point to improve the facilities of the athletic department; this is another move in that direction.

“We wanted to bring the department into one cohesive unit,” Halada said. “It will improve communication between the coaches and the athletic director and it will provide a lively place for athletes to come.”

Administration has also contributed greatly to the progress on the proposal for the new HHP facility. The proposal has currently passed two major hurdles in a four-stage process, showing some promise.

Sources of funding for construction of the new office in Hagestad Hall are not set in stone yet, but Bowen said he is confident that things will begin to fall in place.

“All I can say is that we will find a way,” Bowen said.

Bowen said he has begun to look at the design of the new offices and said that a firm has been brought in to begin looking at different layouts.

If the new HHP facilities are approved, construction should be completed in about four years, Halada said.

In the meantime, the move to a centralized location will be a major step forward for a department looking to create a strong and unified identity.

“It’s also a necessary move in us becoming a first-class department.” Bowen said.