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Over the summer the Board of Trustees approved the $620,000 design of the Sook Academic Center, a study facility for student-athletes. The total project cost is expected to be around $6 million. (PROVIDED VIA OHIO UNIVERSITY)

Academic Centers for student-athletes are not uncommon for MAC universities in Ohio

This is the tenth in a weekly series called Bobcats by the Numbers comparing Ohio University to the other five Mid-American Conference universities in Ohio.

Read the previous entry in this series about the number of bars at each Ohio MAC school.

Of the six Mid-American Conference Universities in Ohio, Ohio University is one of four schools with academic centers for student-athletes.

The six MAC universities in Ohio include OU, Miami University, Bowling Green State University, the University of Toledo, Kent State University and the University of Akron.

Currently the student-athletes at OU use the Joan and Wallace Phillips Center, a 10,000 square-foot academic facility in Peden Stadium's tower, which accommodates about 440 students a year in its 10 tutoring rooms and one 42-seat classroom.

However, design plans are in the works for the Perry and Sandy Sook Academic Center, a study facility for student-athletes.

About $5.74 million had been raised for the Sook Center, which will be at the north end zone of Peden Stadium, as of Aug. 3, OU Spokesman Dan Pittman said. As of June, a little more $2 million has been received by the university. 

The Sooks, who are both OU alumni, donated $2.25 million to the Ohio University Foundation in June 2014 to kickstart the project.

In June, the Board of Trustees approved the $620,000 design of the center, which is set to occur within the next year. Construction is expected to be about $5.5 million.

Ohio football redshirt sophomore Kylan Nelson likes the idea of the Sook Center.

“I think having a building dedicated solely to that purpose outside of where we go for meetings, I think that’s a pretty cool idea,” Nelson said.

He said he will use the center if it opens before he graduates.

“I know a lot of people would come in and use it,” Nelson said.

Casey Starcher said the Sook Center is a good idea because student-athletes are busy, but doesn’t think it should be limited to them.

“I think it definitely will raise a feeling of superiority among (the student-athletes),” Starcher, a freshman studying pre-medicine, said.

Tyler Hordinski said having a separate facility like the Sook Center could help benefit student-athletes.

“It’s a lot of work being a student-athlete, I’m sure,” Hordinski, an undecided freshman, said. "It could be a place for them to go to. I won’t have a problem with it."

At Miami, the Gross Center was built with donated money and cost $4.7 million to construct. Opened in 2001, the center is available exclusively to student-athletes, Miami Spokeswoman Ritter Hoy said.

Student-athletes at Kent State use the George R. Jenkins Athletic Academic Resource Center, Eugene Canal, director of Athletics Communications at Kent State, said. The facility is exclusively for student-athletes. 

Toledo has the Larimer Athletic Complex for its student-athletes. Located at the north end of its football stadium, the Glass Bowl, the complex originally opened in 1990. It reopened in 2014 after undergoing $5.5 million renovations. 

Bowling Green and Akron do not have an academic faculty for their student-athletes.


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