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Copyright 2017 Journal - Gazette Aug 22, 2017
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
There are three ways in which Fred Glass and the Indiana athletic department believe they should be developing their student-athletes - academically, athletically and personally.
But until the April 28 groundbreaking of the Memorial Stadium South End Zone Excellence Academy, only facilities catering to academic and athletic developments had been checked off the list.
"This, the Excellence Academy, is dedicated to personal development of our student-athletes, that which they will really take with them when they leave us," Glass said.
Glass took media members on a tour of the Excellence Academy construction site Monday afternoon before a news conference in the Henke Hall of Champions.
"All the space is dedicated to the development of our student-athletes," Glass said. "There's not administrator offices, or coaches offices, or anything like that. Every piece of it is dedicated to serving our student-athletes."
The Excellence Center is a $53 million project to be completed by the summer of 2018 that will create a new "front door" for Memorial Stadium in what will be named Miller Plaza and complete the "Circle of Excellence" on the athletics campus.
The Circle of Excellence, which includes the D. Ames Shuel Academic Center and the Jay and Nancy Wilkinson Performance Center, represents the academic, athletic and personal developments Glass referred to in his talk before the tour.
"The new Excellence Academy building enables us to put that program literally and figuratively in concrete," Glass said.
The three major facets of the Excellence Academy will be the Hancock Hiltunen Caito Center for Leadership and Life Skills, The Dr. Lawrence Rink Center for Sports Medicine and Technology and the Tobias Nutrition Center.
Of the three, the Rink Center will be the most technologically advanced. This portion will be made up of the Center for Elite Athlete Development, the Rehabilitation and Treatment Center, and the Irsay Family Wellness Clinic.
"This is going to be like crazy, Star Wars, super-?advanced technology," Glass said.
These pieces will house tools such as 3-D imagery and visual acuity D2 boards among other diagnostic and biometric technology that will provide research to help athletes not just in the future but in the present.
"The thing I like most about it is it's not really research stuff to make better athletes in 10 or 20 years," Glass said. "It's applying science right now to improve our kids' performance ability while they're here at Indiana."
The Hancock Hiltunen Caito Center for Leadership and Life Skills most notably will include the Career Counseling Center, one dedicated entirely to the advising of student-athletes.
"I think it'll be a great amenity to have help our kids transition from student-athletes to being employed in the workforce."
Finally, the Tobias Nutrition Center will operate like a suite that can be used for major events and include floor-to-ceiling windows.
The final project will also include a rooftop terrace, new video boards in both the south and north end zones, a ribbon board in the south end zone and upgrades to the home football locker rooms and player lounge.
The home locker room and player lounge will be the final chips to fall, as they won't break ground until the summer of 2018 and will be completed in the summer of 2019.
Glass did specify that the visiting locker room is not in the plans for renovation at this time.
"We won't be painting it pink," Glass joked in reference to Big Ten foe Iowa's visiting locker room that is painted entirely pink. "But we won't be fixing it up either."
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