Athletic facilities to see construction

This is a drawing of a planned entryway of the locker room areas.//Photo Courtesy of Guilford College Athletics

Guilford College has been constructing some improvements to the athletics over the past year and announced new construction plans.

Guilford has been constructing six new women’s locker rooms since the fall as well as a new dance studio.

“The current locker rooms for women are not adequate for the number of teams. This renovation was needed to provide equity and the capability of expanding some of the women’s sports,” said Len Sippel, vice president for administration and finance in an email interview.

On Oct. 17, 2017, some former and current students and coaches filed a federal Title IX class action complaint against Guilford College, alleging the College “systematically discriminates against female athletes and coaches of female athletes.”

Also, in July 2017, the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to Guilford College telling Guilford that it was opening an investigation of Guilford after receiving a complaint from a student that was sexually assaulted and the College failed to “promptly and equitably” respond to the report, as well as giving the student a disciplinary point for violating a no-contact order. A partially redacted letter that the Office of Civil Rights sent to Guilford is available on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX tracker. This is the second investigation by the Department of Education because in 2014 there was another investigation.

The College is also adding a second floor above the locker rooms for storage, a mechanical room and a dance studio. The dance studio will replace the one demolished to build the women’s locker rooms, but will be smaller. There will be two bathrooms for the six locker rooms, both having three showers, sinks and toilets. Currently the project is expected to be completed by the start of the next academic year. The project has been in the works for three years, but got the funding for it 1 ½  years ago.

“The locker rooms have already been funded by a bond issue that we did a year and a half ago that is also funding the remodeling of Binford and the renovation/additions to Hege-Cox,” said Sippel.

Also planned for the Ragan-Brown Field House is an entrance to the locker room area that will connect the women’s and men’s locker rooms and the athletic training room. It will have a glass entrance that will be mainly used by teams to go from their locker rooms to their practice.

Guilford also announced that they are planning on building a new softball stadium. The plans are in the beginning stages as they have been only working on it for six months.

“We are all excited to hear this news,” said junior outfielder and pitcher Makayla Carver in an email interview. “I also hope that it is built in time for us to play next spring as it will be my senior year.”

The current field has problems with many aspects of its location. This season, five balls have been hit over the fence and hit driving cars on New Garden Road. The College also would like to move the field closer to the other athletic facilities, but have not decided on a location at this time.

“There’s probably three areas that they are looking at,” said Interim Athletics Director Craig Eilbacher. “We’re not taking away any golf, none of that area where they hit, because that’s important, that’s part of their facility.”

One location that has been mentioned is in between the baseball and football fields, according to softball head coach Dennis Shores.

A third reason that Guilford wants to build a new softball stadium is that the current field is not up to NCAA regulations.

“This field doesn’t really meet the NCAA requirements. It was grandfathered in because it is not a legal softball field,” said Shores. “The fence goes up 10 feet, regulation field fence is 6 or 8 feet, but in a regulation field it goes back 220 feet in center field. Ours Is only 200 feet.

With creating a new stadium, they will be able make the improvements for the field orientation and functionality.

“I am so excited for all of the new construction on campus. The new softball stadium will allow our team to have access to the locker rooms, be closer to the training room and hopefully have more fans with a more central location on campus,” said sophomore outfielder Kayli Blankenship in an email interview. “I am thankful for all of the people who have fought hard to allow us to have this amazing opportunity and new facilities.”

In the announcement on April 5, the College said that the construction of the field will begin in the fall and be completed in spring 2019, ready to be played in the season. Although the announcement says that it will begin in the fall, the project has not set anything in stone regarding the stadium, and it could be pushed back.

“It says fall, but we’re still working on the logistics of it,” said Eilbacher.

Although they have decided to build this project, it will not be the priority as the campus has many construction projects in progress or planned for the next year.

“The softball stadium is in the design phase and will not be built until either next year or the year after,” said Sippel.

Another thing that could delay the start of the stadium is the funding for it. It is not funded by a bond like the women’s locker rooms, but Guilford hopes it will be mostly funded by philanthropy.

“The softball stadium will be primarily funded by philanthropy,” said Sippel. “We also have a donor who has expressed an interest in funding a portion of the cost.”

Guilford expects the women’s locker rooms, dance studio and entryway to be ready for student use in fall 2018, while they plan to have the softball stadium ready for the spring 2019 season.