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Teams to use new center to achieve Excellence

Take a walk behind Cameron Indoor Stadium these days, and it's easy to tell construction is underway on Duke's newest athletics facility.

On the plot of land encircled by Cameron, the Schwartz-Butters building, Jack Coombs Field, Rubenstein Hall and the Sanford parking lot, the trees have been cleared and the groundwork has been laid for the $15-million Center for Athletic Excellence.

The start of the center's construction comes after years of uncertainty about the project. The wheels for the facility were finally put in motion during the summer of 2004, when men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski agreed to stay at Duke instead of taking the top job at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The administration agreed to back the project as part of the package that made Krzyzewski feel more comfortable about his decision to stay in Durham, but it said all the money would need to be raised before construction began. The fundraising was a bit slow at first, but by this summer, Director of Athletics Joe Alleva had raised enough-about $14 million-to green light the construction.

The building will house two basketball courts, an event space, flexible office space and the athletic department's academic center.

"It addresses a lot of needs," Krzyzewski said. "Everyone in athletics will benefit from this building."

One of the primary objectives for the facility was to alleviate the crunch for practice time in Cameron. Currently, four teams-men's and women's basketball, as well as wrestling and volleyball-use the facility. The men's and women's basketball teams split practice and game time in Cameron, and the other two teams use the stadium primarily for home matches.

The two extra courts in the Center for Athletic Excellence will allow the basketball teams to practice simultaneously. The new structure will also afford more privacy to the current and former Blue Devils who return to Durham to work out.

"We not only share [Cameron] with four teams but everyone wants to be in it-they want to have a meeting in there, a concert in there, graduations there," Krzyzewski said. "As a result, our time is limited."

Although the original plans did not contain much more than the two basketball courts, they were later expanded to include the event space and a new office for Academic Support Services. The current academic space, which is housed in Schwartz-Butters, has been deemed to be too small.

In addition, the new project will provide a venue other than Cameron for events with 300-400 people and extra office space. This was included to allow the Department of Athletics to be "innovative" in its approach toward dealing with all aspects of student athletics and the lives of student athletes.

"I call it a center for excellent human performance," Krzyzewski said. "It comes at a good time- we are going to have these programs, not just a code of conduct or a code of values. We are going to actually put into principle some of these counseling services."

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