A college basketball championship doesn’t come cheap

What does it cost nowadays to snag a college basketball championship?  A coupla million should do it, according to the new basketball coach at University of Arizona.

“In order to compete for championships in today’s world of college basketball, we must have a superior-conditioned, physically-strong, and mentally-tough team,” Sean Miller said after it was announced this week that the school was given a gift of $2.65 million to upgrade some of the Wildcat athletic facilities, the fourth-largest gift in the school’s athletic history.

The donation, Miller explained, would enable UA to have “one of the finest strength and conditioning facilities in the country.”  It comes from Cole and Jeannie Davis.  The couple made Tucson their permanent residence in 2003, following the sale of their Indiana-based RV a couple of years earlier, and have been very generous to UA since then.

The couple has made significant contributions to various programs at the university, not just in the athletics area, but their avid interest in college sports sparked their involvement in supporting the UA athletic programs (Cole Davis actually graduated from Indiana University).  Earlier, they donated $1 million to be able to name the west court in the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium in memory of Shawntinice Polk, a stand-out player for the Wildcats who died suddenly at age 22 before completing her college career.

And just to back up his words with action, Miller and his wife, Amy, tossed in another $250,000 to cover the remaining portion of the project, which will build a new strength-training facility and upgrades to McKale Center and the two-year-old Jefferson Gymnasium that is used for basketball practice.

Oh yeah, the women’s basketball and volleyball programs will get to use the new digs, too.

Miller developed a hard-nosed, physically-tough team at Xavier before coming to Tucson, so that the team could handle the rigors of playing aggressive man-to-man defense.  He wants to do the same thing at UA.

The new strength-training facility should be one of the finest conditioning facilities in the country – which will allow the Wildcats to keep up with the other major programs in the recruiting wars.

Their rival down the road in Tempe already has one of the finest conditioning facilities in the nation, UCLA is embarking on a $185 million renovation of their facilities, and Oregon is nearing completion of a set-up that rivals that of ASU.  So recruiting in the Pac-10 continues to get increasingly expensive, and UA is getting swept up in the arms race.

The Wildcats are also undergoing an $85 million program that will move the school’s football program to the north end zone of the stadium.

As an integral part of Miller’s plan to build bigger, stronger players in his basketball program, he brought his own strength trainer, Chris Rounds, with him from Xavier.  Now he will have a new laboratory for Rounds to use as he tries to bring the Cats up to Xavier standards.

It will be awhile before Miller finds out if his experiment is successful.  But a guy that just committed a quarter-of-a-million dollars to his program is probably planning on sticking around for awhile.

Now Miller needs to focus on the other aspect he announced as part of his vision for UA basketball: recruiting players who will stay four years and graduate from the school.

Good luck with that one.