Former Wolf Pack star and current Charlotte Hornets point guard Ramon Sessions has donated $1 million towards the development of a basketball practice facility on the University of Nevada campus, the Wolf Pack athletics department announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center will be housed at what is currently Lombardi Recreation Center, just south of Mackay Stadium on campus. With the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center set to open early in 2017, Lombardi will be renovated and converted into this new state-of-the-art facility. Construction is expected to begin in late winter with the projected expected to be completed by August of 2017.
“For me, giving back to the University of Nevada means a lot,” said Sessions, who is entering his 10th season in the NBA and first year back in Charlotte with the Hornets after a previous stint with the Bobcats. He returns to Reno annually to put on a summer clinic for area children.
“This was always a second home for me, a place that gave me a chance when a lot of schools didn’t. Coming up as a college kid, we didn’t always have access to a gym. For me, with 10 years in the NBA, I’m blessed to give back to my second home. I’m excited about it. I know the coaches are excited about it. And once this gets going, I know the community will be excited about it,” Sessions said.
In addition to the dedicated space for basketball featuring two courts and eight baskets, the project will service all student-athletes at Nevada, as the Wolf Pack’s strength and conditioning program will move to a much larger footprint within the building. Additionally, locker room space will be developed within the building for other Wolf Pack teams. Swimming pool and dive tank will remain in place for the Wolf Pack swimming and diving teams, coming off a Mountain West championship this year.
“This project is game-changing for the Wolf Pack and will have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of students for years to come. On behalf of the athletics department and the University, I want to thank Ramon for this historic gift to his alma mater,” Nevada Athletics Director Doug Knuth said. “We feel that the University of Nevada provides a tremendous opportunity for achievement in all facets of life. Ramon seized his opportunity at Nevada and we’re incredibly proud of all that he’s achieved, on and off the court.”
The Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center is the culmination of a unique collaboration between the University administration, intercollegiate athletics and the community. With the arrival of the E.L. Weigand Fitness Center, University President Marc Johnson, Vice President for Administration & Finance Ron Zurek and Knuth worked closely together on maximizing the use of existing facilities which would have a dramatic impact on our programs’ competitiveness, at a fraction of the cost. Once the Lombardi Recreation Center was identified as a basketball practice facility, athletics was then able to engage the community and share the vision.
Said President Johnson: “We thank Ramon Sessions for this truly transformative gift. Never before in the history of the University has a former student-athlete made such a significant—and program-changing commitment. His donation will allow Wolf Pack athletics to better serve all of our student-athletes for generations to come. Since leaving campus in 2007 to pursue his dreams, Ramon has represented the University and the northern Nevada community with great dignity and class. We are so proud of Ramon, and grateful for his generosity and the generosity of the other key donors in our community that have made the Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center a reality.”
The $1 million donation is the largest ever given to the Nevada athletics department by one of its alumni. It is the lead gift on a project that will come in around $2 million, with nearly a dozen donors also supporting this important project.
“We are extremely humbled and honored by Ramon’s gift,” second-year men’s baskeball coach Eric Musselman said. “His generosity will not only serve our current student-athletes as they aspire towards their dreams, but pave the way for years and years of championship sustainability here at Nevada. This gift speaks volumes, not only to Ramon’s commitment to our current and future student-athletes, but to his own incredibly positive experience here at Nevada. We wish Ramon the absolute best as he prepares for this upcoming NBA season with the Charlotte Hornets.”
The facility will provide year-round court space for both Wolf Pack teams. The project calls for a new gym, floor, lights and scoreboard, with eight baskets in the court area. The men’s and women’s teams will also have new locker room space in the building.
“I know that Wolf Pack fans are as excited as my team is for this facility and all of the improvements for our basketball programs at Nevada,” women’s coach Jane Albright said. “We saw a significant upgrade to our locker room in the offseason and Lawlor has a fantastic new floor and a state of the art scoreboard coming in. This is a great time for the basketball programs at Nevada.”
The Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center is the latest in a string of facility improvements at Nevada. The Wolf Pack just ushered in an $11.5 million renovation at Mackay Stadium and a separate project brought new videoboards to Mackay and Lawlor, and a new sound system at the football stadium.
The Pack also saw new facilities come on board for the tennis and track programs, with six new on-campus tennis courts and a new throws facility developed on the eastern edge of campus, next to Hixson Park. And a sparkling new silver and blue track circles Chris Ault Field at Mackay Stadium. The projects came on the heels of new FieldTurf installation at Wolf Pack Park, locker room upgrades for women’s soccer, track and field, cross country, football and both basketball programs, as well as an enhanced indoor golf training center.