The Perry and Sandy Sook Academic Center is expected to be completed in fall 2018.
The Sook Center began construction in August and will provide a study space for more than 425 student-athletes. Dan Pittman, an Ohio University spokesman, said the Sook Center will also provide restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Peden Stadium complex.
The total project budget is currently more than $7 million.
“This campus project was undertaken after a series of space analyses for the OHIO Athletics department revealed deficiencies and undersized study spaces for student athletes and the groups working with them,” Pittman said in an email. "OHIO’s Comprehensive Master Plan later validated such space deficiencies.”
OU Athletics Director Jim Schaus said the current academic center has been on the fourth floor of Peden Tower for 17 years. Schaus said it is now too small to accommodate the number of student-athletes that attend OU. All Mid-American Conference schools, and most NCAA Division I schools, currently house academic spaces dedicated for student-athletes.
"A designated study space for student-athletes is common on college campuses to assist them in meeting the unique and stringent academic standards required by the NCAA in order to be eligible to compete,” Schaus said in an email. “The efficient new space provided by the Sook Academic Center, which is entirely funded by intercollegiate athletics, is critical for our students to graduate plus maximize their academic and career potential."
Karynne Baker, a field hockey forward, said she plans to use the Sook Center when construction is finished.
“The one we have now is awesome, we have really good resources there, but it just gets a little crowded sometimes,” Baker, a sophomore studying journalism, said. “It looks like in the new plan it’s going to be a lot more spacious and a lot better for studying, so I can definitely see myself using it.”
Field hockey head coach Neil Macmillan said he is glad to have an up-to-date facility for student-athletes.
“That is what we need,” Macmillan said. “The current facility doesn’t allow that very much. We need to be able to get into a space that’s going to be a better benefit to the actual students.”
The planned advising center has drawn criticism from the OU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which stated in a news release that athletic department control of the advising center about the integrity of OU’s academic mission. Members of the chapter argued that the Sook Center should be placed under the control of an academic office and opened up to all students.
South Green Drive is also being repaired, which began during the summer. Greg Robertson, the associate vice president for architecture, design and construction, said OU replaced a failed culvert under South Green Drive with a new concrete culvert to help drain runoff from Emeriti Pond.
“In order to complete the project, the configuration of South Green Drive was modified to maintain two travel lanes at all times while allowing the installation of the new culverts,” Robertson said in an email. “The roadway returned to its normal traffic patterns soon after the culvert was installed last August.”
Robertson said the project is part of OU’s current Capital Improvement Plan. The total cost will be $2 million, and the project is expected to be completed by mid-November.
Eric Walker contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Neil Macmillan's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.