Facility upgrades top athletic wish list

The athletic department will not use the appointment of a new University president to push the administration to replace its 30-year-old basketball facility, a senior athletic department official said.

Dom Perno, GW’s associate athletic director for development, said GW “know(s) what (it) has,” in reference to the Smith Center but hopes to push President-elect Steven Knapp for money to upgrade the 5,000-seat arena’s medical facilities and locker rooms.

“Those are our priorities right now,” Perno said. “The locker rooms and our medical facilities need attention.”

Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz has oft cited the 22nd Street building as a reason that the GW men’s basketball team has not been able to attract big-name opponents for home contests.

The athletic department will be requesting funds to replace at least a portion of the bleachers with seat backs, Kvancz told The Hatchet earlier this year.

Although currently inactive in any organized sports himself, Knapp told The Hatchet Wednesday afternoon that student athletic programs are a great component of the University.

“GW’s basketball team is extraordinarily well-known and I’d like to get to know that team,” Knapp said.

At Johns Hopkins University, where Knapp currently serves as provost, men’s and women’s lacrosse are its only Division I sports. In the summer of 2005, Hopkins spent $250,000 to renovate its weight room. GW boasts 22 Division I sports and an estimated athletic budget of nearly $15.4 million in 2005, according to MidMajority.com, a college basketball Web site.

The athletic department hopes to use Knapp’s experience at two large universities and his much-touted fundraising prowess to grow its Athletic Director’s club, a donation-based organization that operates pre-game receptions and opportunities to meet GW athletic celebrities.

“We’re going to utilize his experience on different levels that he got at other schools to help us grow,” Perno said.

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who will retire in August, has been excellent for the athletic department, Kvancz said, and athletic officials hope for the same from Knapp.

Kvancz declined to specify on which projects he planned to push on the new president, but he hopes Knapp will continue the legacy of support the department endured during Trachtenberg’s tenure.

“One thing we have had here is success,” Kvancz said of his program. “I hope he looks at that, but he’s got to get his feet wet in all areas first.”

Kvancz said he is unsure if Knapp would make changes to the athletic department when his term begins in August, but for the athletic director, it almost seems counterintuitive.

“We’ve had tremendous success,” Kvancz said. “Why mess with success?”

– David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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