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Cincinnati spending $1.3 million to revamp its facilities

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Cincinnati has unquestionably remained steady and improving under Mick Cronin. (USATSI)

The great arms race that is college athletic facilities will never stop. Even the most modish current facilities will wind up getting an overhaul a decade from now, when others around the country outpace them in the coming years.

Millions upon millions of dollars are put into these -- and with good reason. They genuinely help keep college players healthier and happier. It's more than cool-looking weight rooms and rehab pools. There are lounge areas, study rooms, film-watching quarters, offices for the coaches, and plenty more.

They boost morale, but more than that: The thought is to make the athletic complexes/practice facilities/locker rooms as nice as possible in order to attract the best possible people to the school. That in turn leads to winning, which drives revenue, and the process grows from there. That's the chase.

Having said that, the latest school to plunk down for a facelift is Cincinnati, which will spend $1.3 million, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, to up its specs. All the money has been privately donated.

"When it's completed," Cronin said, "we'll have as good of amenities for our players as any school in the country. ... You've got to look at what's going on around you. Memphis is building a new practice facility with dining halls and locker rooms. So is UConn. In our league, it's Cincinnati, Memphis and UConn. They're both building whole new practice facilities with new locker rooms, with new eating areas.

"You look around the three-state area that we live in and there's some serious commitment to college basketball. You've got to be able to keep up facility-wise. Our locker room was definitely in need. Every guy who has played here since '89 when the old Shoe opened will tell you that."

The project gets underway in November, and it's going to be a fast process. Expectations are for the remodeling to be completed by next March. In conjunction with the NCAA's rule that allows schools to feed their players as much as they'd like -- and whenever they'd like -- Cincinnati is taking advantage by including "a players' lounge complete with a station providing small meals for the players."

We get a handful of programs upping their standards every year. It means a lot to recruits and even more to those on staff. It takes serious fundraising, but you'll seldom find a coach that says all that work -- for the end result -- isn't worth it.

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