Questions About New Ruane Friar Development Center Answered: An Inside Look on the Function, Finances, and Fundraising Involved
by Hannah Langley ’21
Providence College is known for its excellence in many areas: academics, faith life, and athletics, most notably basketball. Recently, PC’s athletic department has made its newest athletic facility, the Ruane Friar Development Center, open to PC’s Division I teams for recreational use and accessible to the PC community.
The new center features high tech equipment and high-quality practice facilities to provide student athletes with the best training and experience possible. The center includes study rooms accessible to all PC students, two practice basketball courts for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and a state-of-the-art weight room for the basketball teams and men’s soccer team. Other amenities include a cryogenic machine, massage chairs, sleep pods, kitchens, lounges, and a barber shop for all athletes.
Bob Driscoll, PC’s associate vice president and athletics director, commented that this center has been a work in progress for nearly 10 years, and plans went into effect about five years ago. “We were creating a vision for it,” said Driscoll, “from hiring architects to getting fundraising to everything else, it was about a five-year process, and construction started a year ago in May.”
Driscoll and Steven Napolillo, senior associate athletic director, emphasized the fact that the new center was built almost entirely from donations by PC alumni and members of the PC community. Out of the $30 million spent to build and furnish the center, about $20 million came from donors and benefactors, according to Napolillo. Driscoll stated that the massive financial support from the PC community makes this center the most fundraiser-supported building on campus.
Among those who donated, Michael and Elizabeth Ruane were the largest benefactors, as well as Joseph Calabria, who made a large donation in support of the statue of coaches Joe Mullaney and David Gavitt. They are located outside the center’s main entrance. Calabria talked about the importance of fundraising in PC’s mission to advance and build its reputation. “It’s the only way we can get ourselves to move ahead so rapidly.”
While the construction of a new athletic facility may seem controversial to many students, Driscoll and Napolillo wanted to clarify that the athletic program and sports teams at PC are an important part of the PC community and experience. Driscoll mentioned that 85 percent of PC’s student body were high school athletes, and basketball has become one of the institution’s largest brands, making the new center a draw for prospective students and student athletes. The center also helps the basketball teams continue to improve and grow in their success, which attracts more students.
“Basketball helps mark PC across the country from an admissions standpoint,” Driscoll stated. He continued by arguing the fact that by investing in the student athletes, the school is investing in the institution and the creation of a strong family community. “A successful basketball program is a main way to bring community together. When we win, we all get to celebrate together,” said Driscoll.
Calabria believes that PC is currently in its “golden years of sports” and is looking forward to its athletic successes in the coming years. He acknowledged Coach Cooley’s success in winning two national championships and for the success of the PC community in the development of various athletic facilities in the past several years, including the renovations to the soccer and field hockey stadiums.
In the spirit of community, Driscoll wanted to make it clear that parts of the center are still open to all PC students for use. A number of the study lounges in the center are open to the public for recreational use, whether that be for doing work by yourself, in a group, or just hanging out with friends. “I want the community to feel like it’s open to everyone,” said Driscoll. “These are multi-purpose facilities,” Driscoll stated, “and all our athletic facilities are shared community facilities, which is something unique to PC.”
Calabria noted his enthusiasm and pride in the completion of the new center, mentioning how the vision took a lot of planning and collaboration from many people. Napolillo emphasized this point, saying, “A building like this is a symbol of thinking big and is a symbol of success for PC.”
The Ruane Friar Development Center is currently open to the entire PC community. Entrances to the building can be found next to the Ray Tracey Track and Hendricken Field or near the Santander ATM in lower Slavin.
Ruane Friar Development Center Unveiled for Student Athletes
Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/TheCowl
by Hannah Langley ’21
Providence College boasts an impressive Division 1 athletic program and has recently created the facilities to match it. This weekend, PC unveiled the Ruane Friar Development Center, a new facility specifically designed to promote not only the training, but also the health and well-being of all student athletes at PC.
The unveiling was held as part of St. Dominic’s Weekend on Saturday following the Friar 5K, giving alumni the opportunity to go inside the new facility and get a first-hand look at how PC has grown since their time on campus. Rev. Brian Shanley, O.P., Robert Driscoll Jr., associate vice president and director of athletics, Ed Cooley and Jim Crowley, head coaches of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and Michael Ruane ‘71, benefactor, alumnus, and now namesake of the new center were all present at the unveiling.
Each of the speakers noted that the new center is extremely high tech and is now currently as nice as any other training facility found at other big state schools and institutions. “This building is a replication of what Friartown is,” noted Driscoll in his speech, emphasizing the fact that PC is slowly evolving into a bigger and more advanced college that is being recognized more and more by larger institutions.
The building could not have been built without the support of PC’s alumni network. Coach Crowley noted the level of support at PC, saying he was both extremely humbled and stunned by it. Not only is there a strong alumni community, Crowley said, but also a strong student athlete community at PC. “We needed to get the facilities to match the people,” said Crowley, “and this center builds the already strong community our student athletes already have.”
Coach Cooley emphasized this idea of community saying, “All our players, they’re the reason why we’re here.” He continued, saying, “We are a family and there’s function in family. It is us. It is we. It is together. It is family. We are the Friars.”
Michael and Elizabeth Ruane have donated much to the school in the past, but it was through their donation that the new athletic facility could be built. “No one has been more generous at PC than Mike and Liz Ruane,” said Shanley, “and we cannot thank you enough.”
Michael Ruane spoke at the unveiling, saying that this center is just the beginning. “I look at this development center as a start of a dream, and a dream is a small pillar of a vision.” Ruane continued, explaining that a vision takes hard work, passion, and teamwork by saying, “If you’re not looking at a vision with teamwork then you haven’t set a high enough goal. You can achieve beyond what you thought was possible.”
Shanley noted one of his favorite parts of the new center is the statue found on the steps outside the main entrance of the building. The statue memorializes Joe Mullaney and David Gavitt, two of PC’s most successful men’s basketball coaches. “The number one lesson Dave instilled in me,” Shanley said, “was building a legacy means getting the right people,” and Shanley believes the PC community and staff involved with the creation of the center exemplify that.
One thing Shanley pointed out was that the statue includes Gavitt’s figure sitting on a bench, and next to Gavitt is an empty spot. Shanley hopes that for now the spot will offer as an incentive to visiting alumni, families, or perspective students to sit there and take pictures with the statue when they visit the school. He did say, however, “My hope is that someday there is going to be another figure there: Coach Cooley.”
The building features equipment and facilities such as a new men’s locker room, lounges, a large weight room, a cryogenic room, a theater, saunas, massage chairs, high definition equipment, and game regulation sized basketball courts.
More details about the new center’s function will come in the following weeks.