As big time money has poured into college athletics like a raging avalance over the past decade, athletic departments have smartly invested that money into their facilities. Much more often than not, that money is going one or two places the football complex and/or the indoor practice structure. Look no further than recently completed facilites at Alabama and Arizona, to name a pair. Soon, Oregon will raise the curtain on a facility sure to make everyone else's look like a cardboard box.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, has taken its $75 million investment elsewhere. Instead of adding another wing to the Barry Switzer Center or building another deck at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the Sooners built the Taj Mahal of athletic dorms.
Announced in 2011, Headington Hall is a 380-bed dormitory, 200 of which will go to regular students, sits within walking distance of both Owen Field and the Switzer Center. The 230,000-square foot facility will be the home of every incoming freshman across the Oklahoma athletics department. Athletics director Joe Castiglione, the driving force behind the project, believes Headington Hall is the best of its kind.
“It sets the standard,” Castiglione told SoonersIllustrated.com. “Few places have the chance to put everything under one roof. It’s right at the center of campus and people can walk to class easily. We were trying to create the best possible environment for all of our student-athletes. “I haven’t seen one that can compare to this. There is a standard of excellence anytime we do something here at the University of Oklahoma. You only get a chance to do it right one time. This is a 50-100-year opportunity for us so we have to get it right the first time.”
2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford donated $500,000 to the project, and the cafeteria bears his name. Adrian Peterson also donated $500,000 to the cause.
We're sure the housing options at Alabama, Arizona and Oregon are great, and OU is certainly not lacking the all-important Wow Factor in its locker rooms and practice facilites. So, to us, putting its extra money into creating the absolute best dorm will prove to be a better long-term investment in terms of athletic department infrastructure and recruiting pitch than adding, say, another couple whirlpools in the training room and an extra floor to the weight room. If building a glitzy new facility is all about recruiting, and recruiting is all about standing out in a prospect's mind, what better way to do that than by offering something your competiton can't match?