Southern Miss announced plans Thursday to build a new multi-purpose Wellness Center that will serve as home to the women's volleyball program.
The building will be located on the USM campus and provide space for volleyball courts, a training room, a weight room, locker rooms, classrooms, administrative offices, additional meeting space and community programming.
“I think there are a couple of benefits to the facility,” USM athletic director Jon Gilbert said Thursday. “It will enhance one of our women's programs significantly. The other factor is it will provide relief to the university and Hattiesburg community for a building that size. It will host plus or minus 1,000 seats. I would anticipate multiple university and community events being held in the building.”
Gilbert said the plan is to locate the facility to the left of the entrance to Reed Green Coliseum on 4th Street in Hattiesburg. The building would be situated adjacent to the Payne Center and along the tree line closest to the entrance to Reed Green.
No trees will be removed for construction, according to Gilbert.
Once the building is constructed, the volleyball team will no longer have to share Reed Green Coliseum with the men's and women's basketball programs.
“It's difficult to schedule Reed Green,” Gilbert said. “Teams can get displaced. This will give the basketball programs more opportunities to use the coliseum.”
Work remains to be done in planning, fund raising and construction. Full construction costs are yet to be finalized.
The architecture firm of Wier Boerner Allin of Jackson has been selected to design the facility.
Once full funding is secured, USM expects the facility to be built in 12-15 months.
Gilbert said that the facility had been discussed for a while, but he “narrowed the scope of it” after he arrived at USM in early March.
“We want to move as quickly as possible,” Gilbert said of the fund-raising effort. “We have been in a quiet phase of fund raising for a little while and a design phase. We have fund raising and approvals to get done. We want to make this project a reality so we want to move as quickly as possible.”
The USM women's volleyball team has been competitive in Conference USA under head coach Amanda Berkley.