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Ward Manuel: Training Center To Be Named For Donor, Not For Calhoun

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Artists rendering of a planned UConn basketball practice facility. (Courtesy University of Connecticut)

Artists rendering of a planned UConn basketball practice facility. (Courtesy University of Connecticut)

BY PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s athletic director says the
university is looking for a sponsor to step forward and secure the
naming rights for its planned basketball training center and has no
plans to name the building after newly retired basketball coach Jim
Calhoun.

“There’s not been one point in the conversation about naming
the building for Jim, because we’ve always, since I got here, been
talking about the naming opportunity to raise money,” said Ward
Manuel, who addressed the speculation Monday after Calhoun spoke at
a chamber of commerce breakfast in Cromwell.

The facility, which is expected to cost more than $40 million,
is being funded entirely by private donations.

It would be built adjacent to Gampel Pavilion on the site where
the former football stadium was razed earlier this year. Plans call
for separate practice courts for the men’s and women’s basketball
teams, locker rooms, weight rooms, classrooms, a sports medicine
center and offices for the basketball staff.

About $22 million of the $32 million needed to break ground on
the center, the school said this week.

“We’re more than halfway toward the total and about 75 percent
to what we need to start construction,” Manuel said.

Calhoun, 70, retired as coach last month, after a 40-year career
that included 26 seasons at Connecticut, three national
championships and induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball
Hall of Fame. He is raising money for the center as part of his new
job as a special assistant to Manuel.

He said he will be visiting NBA training camps this fall and
plans to ask former UConn players for their help with the center,
which he said will also celebrate the history of Husky basketball.

“Some of the kids have expressed some interest, and those who
haven’t are going to become more interested,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun said he’s talked to planners about including a locker
room just for basketball alumni, who will be able to use the
facility.

“That in turn, in my opinion, will keep, five years, 10 years,
20, down the line, all those guys connected,” he said. “And as
guys graduate and go on to their careers, obviously they will be
able to do more. _ maybe one guy will want a room named after him,
etcetera.”

Earlier this summer, the school announced that Webster Bank had
made a significant donation to the building, but would not release
the details. Last December, the school announced that a Woodbridge
couple, Peter J. and Pamela H. Werth donated $4.5 million for the
building, the largest single private gift ever to the Division of
Athletics.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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