By Eric Hoffses
For BC sports fans that have been following the "arms race" of facility upgrades going on in college sports around the country, Monday’s announcement by Brad Bates unveiling plans for a new athletics field house (AKA Football Practice Facility), new baseball field and new softball fans was a much needed shot in the arm of positive news. The announcement couldn’t have had better timing after BC was embarrassed on ESPN’s College Game Day over the weekend for being in danger of going winless in football and basketball in ACC play.
If the BC administration can get a quick approval of the field house from the BOT and the city of Boston then it shouldn’t take more than a year from that time to have the facility fully operational. That will mean good things for the BC Football program and will move its facilities from worst in the ACC back "into the pack" below programs like Florida State and Clemson like it should be.
While the news is positive for the football program it didn’t give a shot of adrenalin to the other winless ACC program, the basketball team. Outside of the possibility that the new recreational center will offer more basketball courts than the Flynn Recreation Center does now, the basketball program will receive nothing from the upgrades.
To be fair, with the help of Brad Bates, Jim Christian has made a few nice improvements since arriving at BC. The biggest was the substantial funding raise that went to the assistant coaches so that Christian could bring in some quality assistants. Another improvement is that the team now charters flights to games so that the team can get in and out of the location instead of relying on commercial airline travel. The third big improvement made was the locker room renovations. To be clear though, all of those moves simply bumped BC back into the pack to align with the bottom half of the ACC teams.
In real estate they use the term "as-is" and "needs TLC" to describe a home that is usually out of date and might have an extra issue or two if you poke around. Those are both good terms to describe the BC practice facilities and resources for the time being.
The elephant in the room continues to be the practice facilities that BC basketball has, or lack thereof. BC basketball continues to be the only team in the ACC that shares its practice court with more than one team (women’s basketball and volleyball) and almost all of the teams in the ACC have their own practice court and share with no other teams. The hoops team also shares the weight room with more other sports programs (30+) than any other school in the ACC. Why does any of that stuff matter? Suppose a player wants to go and put up a couple hundred jump shots during the season. First, the player has to make sure that the Powers Gym isn’t being occupied by the Women’s Basketball or Volleyball teams. If it is in use then the player can go put up some shots in the rec center which is great…. unless there are intramurals going on at that time in which case player literally doesn’t have anywhere on campus to shoot.
There is certainly a population of BC fans that will roll their eyes and dismiss these facilities issues as a small nuisance and make the comeback that Al Skinner won with these same facilities ten years ago. Or they will counter with something like "the type of kid that wants to come to BC doesn’t care about that stuff". The reality is that a lot has changed in college basketball since the Big East title won by Skinner in 2005. Basketball has followed the lead of football and been engaging in a fast paced arms race that escalated when John Calipari became the head coach at Kentucky. BC never had the best facilities in the league but the issue now is that the gap is widening and widening each year between BC and the school in next-to-last place. If you think that other programs aren’t and haven’t used these practice facility arrangements against BC in recruiting you are kidding yourself. It has gotten to a point--- it did a few years ago really--- where local AAU and prep school coaches are now questioning BC’s commitment to winning because of the lack of funds spent on resources.
BC has a ton of good things to sell as a school and the coaches will continue to do that. But at what point did it become acceptable for this great school to have such substandard facilities? I don’t think anybody is asking BC to try and compete with Duke, UNC or Louisville in this arms race because quite frankly that will never happen. Is it fair to ask that the school not be so far behind in facilities and resources compared to every other ACC team? I think so.