UNT athletics unveils new basketball practice facility

UNT athletics unveils new basketball practice facility

April 16
22:30 2013

Ryne Gannoe / Senior Staff Writer

The ribbon was cut for the Ernie Kuehne Basketball Practice Facility on Saturday in front of about 60 people, including the Mean Green men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The new facility is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the two teams to practice. The gym holds five basketball goals, hardwood floors and locker rooms for the women’s and men’s teams.

The building’s $3 million cost is already paid off largely in part to Ernie Kuehne, the project’s largest donor and a member of the UNT board of regents. Kuehne gave $1.4 million to the project and all $3 million were raised in 30 days.

Kuehne said getting his education at UNT was a big part of his success and that he wanted to leave the university better off than when he got there.

“I believe that a university can’t raise itself unless it raises its athletic program,” Kuehne said. “Athletics is a great part of the college experience. We have to be in a position where we can compete. You can’t compete if you’re playing with a short deck.”

UNT President V. Lane Rawlins, who plans to retire at the end of the year, said that much like the academic faculty needs to be equipped for its job, Mean Green coaches and players do, too.

“Our coaches and our players have to have tools,” Rawlins said. “And this is a major tool for the kind of program that we’re trying to build.”

Athletic director Rick Villarreal said this is just one piece in a bigger plan for UNT sports. Villarreal said the next project is a golf practice facility, which will soon be put in front of the Board of Regents, as well as the new baseball stadium.

The former Softball and Golf Indoor Practice Facility was remodeled to become the new basketball practice facility.

UNT began development on the athletic facilities in Mean Green Village in 2003. Since then, UNT has completed complexes like the Apogee Stadium, the Waranch Tennis Complex, Lovelace Softball Stadium and the Mean Green Soccer Stadium.

The Kuehne Practice Facility is the 10th facility to be completed since 2005.

“We have built an infrastructure here to be good, to be great,” Villarreal said. “And when you do that, there are going to be some bumps along the road. The reality is that the end product is going to be something special. Building an athletic program is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Before the facility was built, the two teams competed for time in the Super Pit and the Ken Bahnsen Center with recreational classes and other event. Head men’s basketball coach Tony Benford said UNT had all the resources it needed to prepare athletes for their education and for life, but needed this to help make them the best possible players.

“[Kuehne] wants to give us all the tools and resources to be successful,” Benford said. “Now it’s on us as coaches and players to get it done.”

Kuehne said he believes in the progress UNT has made, and that he wanted to be a part of it.

“My vision, simply, is we have to give ourselves the best chance to be successful,” Kuehne said.

Last season the Mean Green men’s program went 12-20 and the women’s ended the season with an 11-19 record. Both teams played under new head coaches.

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