CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Former men’s basketball Head Coach John Thompson Jr. acknowledges his fans at Verizon Center during a halftime tribute at the game against Creighton on Tuesday evening. The IAC will be named after him.
CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA
Former men’s basketball Head Coach John Thompson Jr. acknowledges his fans at Verizon Center during a halftime tribute at the game against Creighton on Tuesday evening. The IAC will be named after him.

Construction on the Intercollegiate Athletics Center, which will be named for former men’s basketball coach John Thompson Jr., will begin this summer, University President John J. DeGioia announced in a campus-wide email Tuesday.

The athletics department again announced the center’s full name, the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Center, at halftime of the men’s basketball game at Verizon Center on Tuesday evening.

“It was very appropriate to have Coach Thompson Jr.’s name used on this facility,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed told The Hoya. “He has meant so much, not only to Georgetown athletics and basketball, but to this university.”

According to Vice President of Public Affairs Erik Smulson, the university did not consider any other namesakes for the IAC.

Thompson served as the head coach of the men’s basketball team from 1972 to 1999 and, in 1984, became the first black coach to win a major collegiate title.

In his 27-year tenure, Thompson collected 596 wins and 13 Big East championships, including seven regular-season titles and six tournament titles. After his retirement in 1999, Thompson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“He has impacted professions beyond being a basketball coach. He is bigger than a basketball coach,” Reed said. “To be able to now have him and his name on this great facility, people will now remember his legacy forever. It couldn’t have happened to a better, more deserving person.”

The IAC will replace the adjacent McDonough Arena as the primary athletic center for Georgetown. When McDonough was built in 1951, there were 250 student-athletes and nine varsity sports at Georgetown. Today, however, there are 750 student-athletes and 29 varsity sports. Although McDonough is no longer capable of fully serving Georgetown athletics, it will still be used, according to Reed.

“McDonough still has life,” Reed said. “We will still use McDonough and repurpose it because the community values McDonough because there has been so much history there.”

The $60 million IAC, which is funded by the Campaign for Georgetown, will serve all 29 varsity programs and will include practice courts, suites and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, locker rooms for the men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams, meeting rooms, weight training and sports medicine facilities, a study lounge for athletes and a new space for the Athletic Hall of Fame.

“We want [student-athletes] to come here and be efficient. Then we can get them back out to campus where they can study and do the things they need to do and really embrace all they can at Georgetown University,” Reed said.

Athletics department administrative offices will remain in McDonough, while a use for the arena’s court and training facilities is yet to be determined.

Although the 130,000 square-foot IAC will be exclusively used by varsity student-athletes, Reed believes that the center’s effect of freeing up Yates Field House will benefit the wider Georgetown community.

“We will be able to pull the varsity activities out of Yates,” Reed said. “The IAC [will] free up more space and time in Yates for the general student activities.”

After breaking ground this summer, construction of the IAC, which is expected to take 18 to 24 months, is being run by the same company that is building the Healey Family Student Center in New South, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. Construction for the HFSC will run concurrently and is scheduled to conclude in fall. Lauinger Library, too, is undergoing a yearlong renovation to its Special Collections Research Center on the fifth floor, beginning this week.

“Whiting and Turner have a plan for how they will construct the building which will have a minimal impact on the rest of campus and our facilities,” Reed said. “Whiting and Turner has done a lot of work on campus so they understand how to do construction in tight spaces and protect our students, faculty and staff.”

Because the facility will replace the tennis courts currently located in front of McDonough Arena, the university is exploring options for new courts.

“We are really close to working through some plans and mapping out some plans to have tennis courts somewhere on campus or close to campus,” Reed said.

Design adjustments, including removing a proposed glass wall that would face West Road as well as a proposed wing that would partially obstruct McDonough, addressed the Old Georgetown Board’s concerns over size and design. The board criticized initial IAC designs in October 2011, describing the building as too dormitory-like and awkward, in addition to a dislike of the glass wall. The OGB provided permission to proceed with the project in September 2013, after the D.C. Zoning Commission approved plans in April 2012. Reed said he believes these adjustments created a better facility.

“During the process, we came together as two different communities,” Reed said, referring to the OGB and the university. “It looks better. It is going to be operationally and functionally better.”

Smulson stressed the widespread enthusiasm for the project.

“It is one of these unique projects that galvanize the Georgetown community and the entire Washington, D.C., community because they understand how important athletics is to Georgetown and the entire community,” he said.

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