Rendering of the new basketball practice facility.

OXFORD, Miss. – A plan to raise $12 million for a basketball practice facility at the University of Mississippi was announced today and – like the nationally ranked men’s team – the effort is off on a fast break.

Officials with the UMAA Foundation, the private fundraising arm for intercollegiate athletics, said more than $6 million of the total already has been donated or pledged by excited supporters.

The 46,000-square-foot facility is to include separate practice courts, locker and meeting spaces, film rooms, players’ lounges, and coaches’ offices for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. It also has shared weight and training rooms. The building will be located on the southwest side of the campus on the corner of Coliseum Drive and Hill Drive, across from the Gillom Sports Center.

"Games are played at Tad Smith Coliseum, but they are won on the practice court," Chancellor Robert Khayat said. "Our men’s and women’s basketball teams have demonstrated their competitiveness. This new practice facility demonstrates our commitment to support them with whatever they need to continue to be successful."

The campaign to raise private funds for the facility comes at an exciting time for Ole Miss basketball. The men’s team, ranked among the Top 20 in the nation, is off to its best start in school history.

"Our guys are committed to playing on the national stage every March and this building provides a huge step in our ability to recruit and compete," said men’s Coach Andy Kennedy. "We need every Ole Miss fan to join this effort and make a gift to build a practice facility for the exclusive use of men’s and women’s basketball."

The women’s team last year advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion Tennessee. This year’s team with new Coach Renee Ladner recently upset 18th-ranked Arkansas.

"There are so many reasons why Ole Miss basketball will benefit both academically and athletically once this facility is built," Ladner said. "We greatly appreciate the generous support of our alumni who continue to donate funds to a facility that has become a need and not just a want."

Groundbreaking for the new building is to be held later this spring, with construction expected to take 18 months.

"The coaches have given us their reasons regarding the need for the facility," said Athletics Director Pete Boone. "Now the burden is on us to provide them the tools they must have to be successful. To ensure a successful future, the answer is simple – come to games and donate the money to build our practice facility."

The effort is part of the MomentUM campaign, a four-year initiative to raise $200 million. The campaign, which ends in December, already has raised more than $170 million for scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, residential colleges and a new law school on the Oxford campus. Also in the plan is a cancer center at the Medical Center in Jackson.

For information on contributing to the basketball campaign, call 662-915-7159.