Oct. 16, 2007
By Nicholas Pinkerton
Santa Clara plans to replace the Malley Fitness Center pool with a new multi-million dollar aquatic center and has acquired a major donor for the project.
The university will receive a $3 million donation from alumnus Jack Sullivan, '59, which will be paid out over the next two years.
While the money donated from Sullivan is a start, Athletic Director Dan Coonan said that more funding is necessary to accomplish every goal of the aquatic center.
Plans have been made that would accommodate a pool that fits NCAA men's water polo regulations -- 52 meters in length with a minimum depth of 7 feet.
"We are aiming for it to be a 52-meter pool," said Coonan. "The current plans would include features that would enable more lap swimming, as well as meet NCAA water polo regulations."
Janice Demonsi, director of campus recreation, said the new pool will include a movable bulkhead approximately 25 meters in length, allowing for water sports and swimming simultaneously.
"The bulkhead will allow for more lap swimming while water polo practice is going on," she said.
With increased dimensions, lap swimming would be able to occur even while water polo games are being played, Demonsi added.
According to Joe Sugg, assistant vice president of university operations, thoughts about the new pool had been circulating since 2000. Sugg said the old pool has to be drained every six months and is becoming worn out.
When construction begins, the current pool will be destroyed, and the new pool will be built in its place, Sugg said.
"The Sullivan Aquatic Center" will be named after Jack Sullivan, the project's primary donor.
Sullivan received his undergraduate degree from Santa Clara in 1959 and later returned to pursue his master's degree, completing it in 1976. While a student, he attended accounting class alongside current University President Paul Locatelli, S.J.
More recently, Sullivan has become a Bronco season ticket holder and a fan of men's water polo, visiting with standout Jack Wall.
A former boxer on the university boxing team, Sullivan said the school deserves a new aquatics center.
"Santa Clara's facilities should be competitive," he said. "Northern California is a fertile water polo country."
Coonan said Sullivan's children and grandchildren have been involved with water polo -- a factor that Coonan believes spurred the donation.
"I think he wanted to give the school a pool it deserves," said Coonan.
While there is no official timeline for groundbreaking or construction on the new aquatic center, both Coonan and Sugg said that deconstruction of the new pool will begin as soon as all funding matters are resolved.
"We don't have a hard and fast timeline," said Coonan.
Demonsi confirmed, saying that the university is still working with an architectual firm on the final plans.
"We are trying to see exactly what the Athletic Department needs and what Campus Recreation needs," said Demonsi.
Sugg said that it's possible that the university will begin deconstruction of the current pool by next spring, but those plans have not been finalized.
"It is conceivable that the cost comes back considerably higher than we expected, and we have to work in phases," said Coonan.
Should the cost of the center exceed the projected budget, Coonan said that construction would begin with the pool itself.
"You have to start with the pool itself and then worry about all of the other stuff around it, like seating and stands," said Coonan.
Coonan declined to comment on what the university expects the cost of the pool to be.
But while there is uncertainty about many aspects of the project, Coonan said he is pleased with the progress that has already been made.
"We received a wonderful gift from Jack Sullivan," said Coonan. "It's the last pool left on campus, and we want to rebuild it."