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ND Athletics: Gug’ gives Notre Dame new look

Pat Leonard | Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It’s pronounced “Goog,” it’s spelled “Gug” and it’s short for the largest upgrade of athletic facilities at Notre Dame in years.

The Don F. and Flora Guglielmino Athletics Complex, a $21.25 million project, is receiving its finishing touches as the 2005 football season approaches. The football team recently moved in to the new 95,840-square-foot facility that features state-of-the-art locker rooms, training equipment, greeting and meeting rooms and coaches’ offices.

And head coach Charlie Weis already feels at home.

“Absolutely,” Weis said after Tuesday’s practice. “Ride by. I’ll wave to you from my patio.”

Weis’ second-floor office opens onto a balcony that overlooks Cartier Field, where the team practices. Add that to the long list of amenities and upgrades that are making the “Gug” the talk of all Notre Dame sports, not just football.

“You could see how moving into a facility like this … is a really big plus for the University of Notre Dame,” Weis said on the team’s media day Aug. 8. “It’s a big plus for the whole athletic department.”

Located behind the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center and connected in the back to the Loftus Sports Center, the Guglielmino Complex will serve as the new official location of the football offices – moving to the east of campus from their previous location in the Joyce Center.

With big-name college football programs upgrading facilities across the country – Sports Illustrated once reported Oregon had plasma screen televisions in its locker room – the Irish feel they were long overdue.

“I think going from facilities that I believe were antiquated to now right at the top with everybody with the way Notre Dame should be and what they stand for, I think our players are very, very happy,” Weis said on media day.

Now the Irish have six plasmas of their own in the weight room.

From a mud-room for spike-cleaning to shoe-warmers in the bottom drawers of players’ lockers, the “Gug” gives Notre Dame football a fresh look as the program changes direction with a new coaching staff.

Wide receiver Matt Shelton particularly approves of the practice locker room, since the team will no longer be walking into the stadium daily.

“I think by having the locker room over here and not being over at the stadium as much, it’s going to bring back a certain mystique to the stadium,” Shelton said.

At the greeting area inside the front doors, a player has access ahead to a 3,800-square-foot, 150-seat auditorium for team meetings, film watching and other purposes.

Down a hallway to the left, wall-to-ceiling windows provide a viewing area of the Haggar Fitness Center, where the “Gug” and the Loftus Sports Center share 25,000 square feet of strength and conditioning space, a three-lane track, a 40-yard Prestige Turf athletic surface for team workouts and strength coaches’ offices.

All 25 of Notre Dame’s other varsity sports will use the weight facilities and auditorium as well.

The rest of the building includes an 8,260-square-foot sports medicine facility, team meeting rooms with high-tech video and technology systems and even an indoor area to hold team buses in inclement weather.

And as the new coaching staff gets acclimated to improved facilities for training, conditioning and coaching, areas like Weis’ balcony can also serve other purposes – like staff bonding, for example.

“The first day back there I had all the staff out there, they got mad at me and I said, ‘I’m having a staff meeting, be in my office at noon,'” Weis said. “They walked in at noon and there were some burgers and dogs out on the grill. They didn’t dislike me too much at that time.”

The center was underwritten with a gift from the late Don F. Gugl-ielmino and his wife, Flora. Guglielmino att-ended Notre Dame in the 1939-40 academic year and has been a longtime contributor to the University.

He was recognized as an honorary alumnus in 1996 and inducted into the Notre Dame National Monogram Club after his death on May 31, 2001.

The University broke ground on construction of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex in November 2003.