The Promise of PC Athletics: Renovations for Facilities in Talks


Mitchell Mercer

PC wrestler Ainslie Lane against Life University. The PC men’s and women’s wrestling programs will be one of several programs that will benefit from athletic renovations.

Mitchell Mercer, Sports Editor

Colleges across the country have exploded with new facilities for their athletic programs over the past few years, and now the Blue Hose are getting into the facility arms race.

The college announced during a January Lettermen’s day event that the school is planning a $8 million dollar initiative that will upgrade several Blue Hose athletic facilities in need of renovations. This will impact the basketball and wrestling programs. 

PC is hoping to have the money locked in by June 30th, with construction proceeding next fall.

“Providing student-athletes, coaches and spectators with facilities conducive to increased performance, a better student-athlete experience, and a better gameday experience is the goal of every Division I athletic director, and doing so at Presbyterian most certainly was part of my plan upon arriving at PC,” athletic director Rob Acunto said in regards to the new initiative.

Over the years, many PC student athletes have faced challenges when it comes to preparing for and playing in their respective season’s. Recently, the women’s lacrosse team got a new team meeting room after using several classrooms across campus, the baseball team got lights installed for the first time, and the cross country teams are still using locker rooms at the Harper Center.

Because of this, Acunto knows that PC’s best chance of getting top tier talent has to start with providing student athletes with the tools necessary to experience great success, which includes facilities.

“It is critically important to have the best facilities possible in order to continue attracting high quality student-athletes from across the country. Many high schools have invested in modern athletic facilities for their students, as has most every college and university, and it is equally important for PC to do the same in order to compete for prospective student-athletes,” Acunto said.

When recruiting student athletes, which is a large pool of PC students, it is important to show students the best aspects of what PC has to offer for their particular sport. However, it seems that PC has been lacking in facilities and resources that would entice students to want to play for our college. 

“There are many reasons why getting new facilities is important for the College. First, four PC sport programs currently do not have a locker room, a coach’s office, or a place to practice on campus. Providing them a positive student-athlete experience requires those basic needs to exist,” Acunto said.  

As other schools continue to renovate their facilities it is important that we keep in line with their amenities in order to establish and maintain competitive sports programs with a competitive pool of students. 

“Second, the phrase ‘If you are not moving forward you are falling behind’ is a reality in college athletics. Our competitors continue to build and renovate their athletic facilities and it is necessary for PC to do the same in order to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining quality student-athletes and coaches,” Acunto said.

The Templeton Education Center currently houses many of PC’s athletic teams on campus.
(Mitchell Mercer)

It is not only important to maintain competitive facilities for student athletes, but it is equally important to update facilities for the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who come out to support PC athletes at their games.

“Spectators also want an enjoyable gameday experience and renovating the Templeton Center arena will provide spectators with new seating, modern video and scoreboards, and a more comfortable climate for watching athletic events due to the planned installation of an HVAC system,” Acunto said.

Building facilities for college athletic teams have become more of a common theme over the past couple of years.

A 2014 study by The Washington Post found that approximately 48 schools have used at least $772 million dollars in spending to help improve facilities for student athletes. In addition, some schools have even added bowling alleys, DJ rooms, and arcade rooms to go along with the general student athlete experience. 

With schools trying to be creative and differentiate themselves from one another, it has become a major factor in deciding which schools will get the top talent and coaches in the region.

Will Pontoon, a junior on the Blue Hose men’s wrestling team, admitted that a recruitment conversation he had with coach Mark Cody about future plans to improve facilities played a part in his decision to come to PC, and Pontoon believes these updates would help make PC one of the best programs in the country.

“On my visit, he talked a large deal about the new facility we’d be building and how it would be the largest D1 wrestling facility at any college. I would say that the promised athletic facility probably contributed to 20% of my decision to sign with PC,” Pontoon said.

In terms of the current situation, Pontoon admitted that the facilities used for wrestling and other programs have been frustrating at times because of the use of shared spaces and the movement to different places on campus to accommodate areas of need for all sports.

“Our facilities up until now have been the bare minimum. Not only that, but we’ve had to share our facilities with other programs which complicated scheduling for practice times,” Pontoon said.

Luckily, help is on the way.

PC softball pitcher Haley Haselden pitches against NC Central. PC’s softball complex is scheduled to get several amenities to help out the program. ©Mitchell Mercer

The first major project of the $8 million dollar initiative will be a multipurpose facility specifically for PC’s newest sports teams: acrobatics & tumbling, men’s & women’s wrestling, and competitive cheerleading.

The proposed facility will house offices for the aforementioned teams, as well as new locker rooms.

Elton Pollock Field and the PC softball complex will be next in line for renovations with the former getting a new press box, bleachers, concessions, restrooms, and a field house that will hold offices and locker rooms.

As for the latter, the current softball facility will also get a press box alongside lights, offices, and locker rooms nearby.

Lastly, the Templeton Physical Education Center will get a major facelift as the arena will be home to brand new video boards, bleachers, and an HVAC system.

Templeton currently holds 2,300 seats, which is the fourth smallest in the Big South Conference Longwood, USC Upstate, and Charleston Southern are the other schools who have smaller basketball arenas.

While there is still construction planning underway as well as fundraising taking place, Pontoon is confident that him, current PC student athletes, and future ones will benefit in a large amount of the proposed amenities.

“Overall, I was happy to hear the news that they would be investing in new facilities for the athletic departments. It shows that PC cares about its student athletes and shows that they really want them to succeed. I think it will definitely help when it comes to recruiting,” he concluded.

Guard Trevon Reddish-Rhone goes for a basket against Longwood. Templeton’s proposed renovations will change the game-day experience of PC basketball. (Mitchell Mercer)