Editorial: Evaluate priorities

Our view:
While an academic facility entirely for student-athletes would raise GW’s profile for recruits, GW should allocate its resources toward other projects.

At last Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs proposed the University construct an academic facility exclusively for student-athletes. During his speech, Hobbs cited that the current facilities are not conducive to learning and are a liability in luring high-profile recruits to GW. While Hobbs should be commended for taking a stand on behalf of the entire athletic department, he must recognize that other University building priorities are more pressing than an academic facility for student-athletes.

Few can claim that the GW’s facilities for athletes are spectacular. The men’s basketball team – the sport in which facilities play the largest role in recruiting – resides in an antiquated arena with below-average weight training equipment. The ability to market a student-athlete academic center would no doubt offset some of these weaknesses. In presenting this facility as one for all student-athletes, Hobbs should be commended for using his relative celebrity and influence on behalf of the entire athletic department. As the profile of the men’s basketball team increases, so too does Hobbs’ influence at GW. As a result, his word carries more weight, and it is encouraging to know he is using such influence for all athletes.

While in an ideal situation such a facility would exist, it would be na?ve for Hobbs to think this project will happen anytime soon. On an urban campus, plots suitable for development are at a premium. Specifically at GW – which has undergone a massive infrastructure expansion in the last decade – the list of programs looking for new facilities is substantial. As an academic institution, it is imperative GW address pressing academic needs, such as a new science facility, first. If the project happens at all, it should simply be added to the list.

Constructing an academic facility for student-athletes would be impressive for potential recruits. However, the reasoning some use to justify its construction makes this page question whether or not it is necessary at all. While some argue it is difficult for student-athletes to concentrate in close quarters, there are plenty of other facilities available at night on campus athletes could use. It is possible, through a coordinated analysis of available space, that the problems officials cite could be solved through alternate means. Doing so would save the many millions of dollars needed to construct a facility only a small portion of the student body would utilize.

Over the last few years, the University has invested a great deal in improving the attractiveness of GW’s sports facilities for potential recruits. It has constructed the Lerner Health and Wellness Center and upgraded the athletic fields on the Mount Vernon Campus. Given this, it is important that GW assess whether further investment in its athletic programs is best served in this capacity or whether the need could be filled by other means.

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