USC football player Moe Brown remembered being kicked out of study hall last year — not because he was acting up, but because there was not enough room. He was a good student, so Raymond Harrison, the team’s academic adviser, picked Brown to leave and study on his own.
“I don’t think I need to worry about that anymore with the new facilities,” Brown said Friday.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday for “the Dodie,” USC’s new academic enchrichment facility scheduled to open in 16 months. Named after benefactor Dolores F. Anderson, the three-story, 36,000-square-foot facility — located near Sarge Frye Field, across from Heyward Street — will be a one-stop academic shop for athletes.
The most active construction will not begin until this summer, once USC’s baseball season is over. The Dodie is scheduled to be available to athletes in the fall of 2009.
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Anderson, who turns 80 this year, donated nearly half of the projected $13 million cost of the project, the largest single donation to the athletics department in the history of the university. Anderson addressed the crowd briefly, joking that USC had done everything for her except let her be a cheerleader.
The ceremony was attended by football coach Steve Spurrier, men’s basketball coach Darrin Horn, baseball coach Ray Tanner and numerous athletes, including basketball players Sam Muldrow and Branden Conrad.
Spurrier said the Dodie would lift USC to “amongst the best” in the SEC in facilities.
“Someone asked me the other day what do we need in football, and I said we really don’t need much anymore,” Spurrier said. “We need to coach better and play better; that’s what we need to do. Because everything is here now.”
Currently, students are spread throughout campus for study hall, according to Harrison, who oversees academics for the athletics department. Harrison sees the Dodie being a focal point, and not just for academics.
Athletics director Eric Hyman predicted it would become the “heart” of the athletics department and help with recruiting.
The Dodie is part of the first phase of Hyman’s facilities plan, along with a new baseball stadium that is due to be completed by next season, and a football training facility.
The second phase includes a women’s lacrosse facility. But Hyman said USC has “backed off” starting the program in 2009 and will make an evaluation for a start date once the field is completed.
“We talk about that cathedrals are built one brick at a time. This is a huge brick,” Hyman said of the Dodie. “We want to be able to make a fantastic presentation to prospect student-athletes and the young people that we have in the program.”
Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.