GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina University will permanently name its new basketball practice facility the Smith-Williams Center announced ECU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher Thursday. The new building will be dedicated on Friday, Aug. 30.
The invitation-only event for donors and project contributors will feature ECU Chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard, lead contributors Harry and Tammy Smith and Walter and Marie Williams as well as Compher and head coaches Jeff Lebo and Heather Macy. Guests will be able to tour the facility following the dedication ceremony, which will be held at approximately 6:30 p.m. in the men's practice gym.
“We can now showcase the facility to our recruits,” Lebo said. “This is something that we’re real excited about. It’s going to be great for our program; great for our student-athletes to have a place that they can be proud to go everyday and work on their game to get better.
“The facility itself is very classy and encompassing. It’s going to be nice to have everything in one building. The setup is outstanding.”
Named in honor of principal donors Harry and Tammy Smith and Walter and Marie Williams, the center has a total project cost of $17 million that was funded entirely through private gifts. The Smith’s commitment of $1 million toward the Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign in December 2011, coupled with leadership gifts from the Williams family and contributions of numerous other donors enabled the construction of the facility.
Mr. Smith - a 1992 East Carolina University graduate - is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Flanders Corp., one of the largest manufacturers of air filters and related products in the United States.
Mr. Williams, founder of Trade Oil Company and an alumnus of East Carolina University, is a former member of the ECU Board of Trustees (1995-1999) and a longtime member of the ECU Educational Foundation (Pirate Club). He was co-chair of ECU’s Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign, Shared Visions Capital Campaign and the ECU Kick-Off to Victory Campaign. The arena inside Minges Coliseum is also named in honor and recognition of the Williams family.
“All those who gave their time and money are to be commended for helping make this dream a reality,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Executive Director of the Pirate Club J. Batt said. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment to see this facility come to life and we're very proud and grateful to all the members of the Pirate Nation who stepped up.”
The Smith-Williams Center, which is structurally connected to Minges Coliseum, will be the headquarters for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, providing them with a state-of-the-art venue in which to practice, train and condition. The 49,000-square-foot, multi-level facility features mirror image practice courts, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, training rooms for each program and will also house the Athletics Hall of Fame, which will feature a prideful display of the rich tradition of intercollegiate athletics at ECU.
“The new practice facility is going to elevate every aspect of our program,” Macy said. “Everyone thinks from a recruiting standpoint, but it elevates our performance as a team as we have more accessibility to practices, drills and working on our game.”
Donations are continuing to be solicited to complete the construction of the Hall of Fame wing of the facility.