LOGAN – Utah State University Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes announced Thursday that construction on a new $9.5 million state-of-the-art <a href=”http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/ust/genrel/auto_pdf/2012-13/misc_non_event/050913.pdf” target=”_blank”>basketball practice facility and volleyball competition venue</a> will begin in mid-May, following a lead gift of $5.25 million from Jim and Carol Laub, which is the largest single gift in USU Athletics history.
“Carol and I are proud of Utah State University and the many great things it does for the state and beyond,” said Jim Laub, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cache Valley Electric. “Under the outstanding leadership of USU President Stan Albrecht and Scott Barnes, they have positioned USU for a dynamic and successful future. Carol and I look at this gift as an investment in Utah State University’s future.”
The 32,000 square-foot building, which will be named the Wayne Estes Center, will be located just to the west of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum where the current Harris Athletics Center sits. The facility will contain a regulation size competition court with chair back seating for 1,400 fans, along with a training room and in-season strength and conditioning area. Office space for both men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball will also be included in the new facility, as well as a locker room and film room for volleyball. Ticketing and concession services will also be available on Gamedays.
Located inside the foyer of the Wayne Estes Center will be a visual tribute of the buildings namesake.
“Jim and Carol have played a critical role in the growth of our athletic enterprise in numerous ways over the years,” said Barnes. “Their most recent lead gift to the Wayne Estes Center is a profoundly generous statement that speaks volumes about their devotion to Utah State University Athletics and our student-athletes. This comes at a pivotal time as we continue to make the climb in preparation for Mountain West competition.”
The facility, which will be built by Okland Construction and designed by VCBO Architecture, is expected to be completed by April, 2014. All funding for this new facility will come from private donations.
“When asked for my suggestion for a name for this new facility, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to recognize Wayne Estes and the legacy he left. Merlin Olsen, the greatest football player in school history, recently had the football field named in his honor and Wayne is the greatest basketball player in school history, so it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Laub said.
Wayne Estes was an All-American basketball player for Utah State University from 1963 to 1965 and still ranks as the third-leading scorer in Utah State history with 2,001 points and the fourth-leading rebounder (893). He holds school records for career points per game (26.7), free throws made in a career (469), consecutive 10-point games (64), points in a season (821), points per game in a season (33.7), points in a game (52), and rebounds in a game (28).
On the night of February 8, 1965, Estes played the last game of his college career against the University of Denver in the Nelson Fieldhouse on the USU campus. Estes, who scored the second-most points in a single-game in school history that night with 48 (trailing his school-record 52 points set a year earlier) eclipsed the 2,000 point mark with his final basket of the game to give him 2,001 points for his career.
After the game, Estes and some friends stopped at the scene of a car accident near campus. While crossing the street, Estes brushed against a downed high power line and was fatally electrocuted.
“As the years have gone by since that fateful day in 1965, when Wayne was accidentally electrocuted, I have noticed that many of Utah State’s younger fans are not aware of Estes and his history, his greatness, or his impact on the community. By suggesting that this facility be named in his honor, it will allow past generations to remember him and future generations to honor him,” Laub said.
Estes would have likely been a high draft pick in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1965 as he was the second-leading scorer in the nation at 33.7 points per game, just behind Rick Barry.
Estes was posthumously given All-American honors by the Associated Press and also earned a posthumous consensus Second Team All-American distinction. In 1967, Estes was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I had two idols as a young boy in the 1960’s – Mickey Mantle and Wayne Estes,” Laub explained.” Like most young boys, I was impressionable and tried to emulate Wayne. I will always remember how hard he worked to be the best he could and also how humble he was with his success. Estes had a huge impact on me during these years, and it is an honor to his legacy that this new facility will bear his name.”
This project is the latest in a series of recent athletic facility improvements at Utah State. In 2008, construction was completed on the 69,000 square foot Jim & Carol Laub Athletics-Academics Complex. In 2009, USU opened the Steve Mothersell Athletics Hall of Honor as well as its new off-court basketball facilities, which include the Nate and Heather Wickizer men’s basketball and MerLynn Pitcher women’s basketball locker rooms. In 2010, USU opened the Dr. Randall and Julianne Stockham Student-Athlete Academic Hall of Honor. In 2011, a new synthetic turf was installed in the Stan Laub Indoor Training Center, while new AstroTurf was installed on Merlin Olsen Field inside Romney Stadium in 2012. And in 2013, USU will complete construction on its new 26,000 square foot strength and conditioning center.
For more information on the Wayne Estes Center or to pledge a gift, contact the USU Athletics Department at (435) 797-1850.
<em>What Select Utah State Coaches Are Saying About The New Wayne Estes Center</em>
<strong>Stew Morrill, Utah State Head Men’s Basketball Coach</strong>
“This facility is very important for multiple sports at Utah State. For men’s basketball, it is a much-needed facility to accommodate our program going forward in the Mountain West Conference. It gives us greater flexibility in developing our players thru both regular practice as well as individual workouts. In addition, we will be adding office space that we have desperately needed. Both from a playing a recruiting standpoint, this is a great upgrade for Utah State Basketball.”
<strong>Jerry Finkbeiner, Utah State Head Women’s Basketball Coach</strong>
“I am very excited about the basketball practice facility/volleyball competition site for what it brings to our recruiting and for what it brings to our logistical challenges with practices times. Upon accepting the job last year, one of the keys that I saw in the growth of women’s basketball at Utah State is the facility growth and what it means in all areas of building a program.”
<strong>Grayson DuBose, Utah State Head Women’s Volleyball Coach</strong>
“We are very excited for our program to have this amazing facility and it will definitely help with the growth of our volleyball team. Recruits want to see that you are moving forward as a program and this will go a long way to show them and their families that Utah State is committed to having a first- class athletics program.”