Illinois is looking to make its men’s and women’s basketball programs more competitive again, and take the first step out of the Big Ten cellar, by improving training facilities.
The University announced a $30 million renovation program to the Ubben Basketball Practice Facility on Monday afternoon.
Illinois announces a $30 million renovation for its basketball practice facility. Will add more than 45,000 square feet to the existing structure. pic.twitter.com/FHm4YtvGE0— Brian Hamilton (@_Brian_Hamilton) June 11, 2018
Whitman said there is a correlation between the Illinois men’s and women’s basketball programs’ success and the opening of the Ubben Basketball Complex in 1998. He stated that Illinois’ formula for creating a strong athletic program has always been to find great coaching and support them with top-notch facilities and assets.
“We supported those resources with great coaches... and for the 10 years after we opened the building, we did some things that Illinois Basketball had never done before,” Whitman said. “I think it’s no coincidence that following the opening of this building, and teaming that with tremendous coaching, our program shot to levels that had never before been seen.
“Today’s announcement allows us to take a similar step forward.”
Whitman backed this statement by using the recent success of the Illinois golf and tennis programs.
The resources needed for collegiate basketball programs have changed since the Ubben Basketball Complex was put together in 1998, Whitman said — noting changes in staff sizes, technology and sports medicine. Whitman isn’t only trying to catch up with other athletic facilities across the country, but also surpass them.
“Certainly we understand that to remain competitive, we have to provide state of the art facilities that allow students to feel like this University is committed to their improvement and their achievement in their particular sport,” Whitman said. “I hope that when we do it, it isn’t to just get back to even. These facilities are a lot like technology, as soon as you buy a computer, by the time you get it installed in your office, it feels like there is already a version out that you need to go buy.
“We want to be sure that when we make these improvements.”
The $30 million needed for the development of the facility has not yet been funded, but Whitman is very confident that they will be able to come up with the funding for the project. Whitman also said, ideally, he would wants all private donations for the new facility.
Once the funding can be secured for the upgrades at the Ubben Basketball Complex, Whitman said that there would be a three-year timeline for the full completion of the renovations.
Funding is already underway according to Whitman as on Thursday, there will be a fund-raising event — called The Champion’s Summit — in Chicago. Illinois basketball supporters and alumni will be coming together for event and will be hosted by Mannie Jackson and Jerry Colangelo. Former Illini greats such as Deron Williams,Dee Brown and Kendall Gill will also be in attendance for the event.
While funding isn’t secured for this project, Whitman had a very specific reason for this announcement.
“It’s important we put this information out now so that our fans can rally around the decision and for what this future looks like,” Whitman said. “So that our coaches can use it in their recruiting so they have the opportunity to talk about what the future looks like and how it will make a difference and how it will make a difference in the student-athlete experience and ultimately in the performance of our teams.”
Whitman said these changes will have a significant effect on Illinois athletics and will allow them to reclaim its national status.
““Time is now again for us to become national leaders,” Whitman said.