Intramural field space in question

By Gus Bode

Directors curious about Saluki Way’s affect on program

Chancellor Walter Wendler has proposed building a new football field north of McAndrew Stadium – the same location as the current campus tennis courts and intramural softball fields.

The construction would be part of phase one of “Saluki Way,” a 10-year construction plan to overhaul the east corridor of campus. Wendler said the fields will be moved into an equal space, but the directors of intramural sports say mock-up designs appear to be squeezing five acres of playing fields into one-and-a-half acres.


Bill McMinn, director of the Recreation Center, said he understands the plan is not finished, but he wants administrators to remember intramural sports is one of the most popular programs on campus.

Softball alone pulled more than 1,000 student-participants last year, McMinn said, and in total, the programs had more than 5,000.

“There are no other programs on this campus that draw those kind of numbers,” McMinn said.

The Recreation Center also maintains the tennis courts on the north side of McAndrew Stadium. In the preliminary designs, the tennis courts will move to the west side of the SIU Arena -on the fields where the Cricket Club plays.

The plans remain a work-in-progress that will require input from many people, Wendler said.

“The whole thing is still being discussed,” Wendler said.

At Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, Wendler said a committee is being put together to review the first academic building in the “Saluki Way” project. He indicated similar committees could be organized for issues such as the intramural fields.


So far, no one from the Recreation Center has been involved, McMinn said. If called upon for advice, he said he will fight for what the students want.

“Our role is not to cross swords with anyone here,” McMinn said. “When we think of any proposals, we think of students first.”

Sarah Hanson, a senior studying history from Marion, said as a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority, she is concerned about the fate of intramural fields.

“Flag football is very, very popular,” Hanson said. “I know a lot of the greek system participates in intramural sports.”

McMinn and Hanson agreed the new plan is needed, but they said they still have concerns over the fate of the fields.

“I think it’s important to note this is just a plan, and we’ll have every opportunity to relate our concerns,” McMinn said.

Another major concern is the more than $500,000 lights hanging over the fields. Herman Williams, assistant director of intramural sports, said SIUC is often selected to host extramural tournaments because it is rare to have lights.

“We hoped we’d get lighted fields 20 years ago,” Williams said.

The new facilities will be equal to or better than the current fields, Wendler said.

Reporter Zack Quaintance can be reached at [email protected]