On the fringe of campus on Belmont Boulevard, one department was left behind when classes shifted to the Wedgewood Academic and Johnson centers.
The sport science department is the only part of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences that did not get a new home over the past two years.
The department may find a new home in an old building, however, as department leadership has made a proposal to expand into the Hitch Science Building.
“The second floor would be used primarily for by the sport administration program and the third floor would be used mainly by the exercise science major and the sports medicine minor. The only way the Hitch proposal would work to satisfy our needs is if we could retain the building we are currently in as well,” chair of the sport science department Patrick Schneider said.
The current sport science facility is located at 2110 Belmont Blvd., and is equipped with a gym, indoor track and parking lot. The building serves over 120 undergraduate majors, 65 minors, 60 graduate students and other Belmont students whose mandatory wellness classes are hosted at the building.
A major complaint from both students and faculty is that the facility is inconveniently far from other major parts of campus.
“It also takes like 15-20 minutes to get there from WAC/McWhorter. If it was any closer it would definitely be easier to get there when I only have 10 minutes between my class there and my class in McWhorter,” sophomore sports medicine minor Briana Anderson said.
The building is also aesthetically inconsistent with the rest of campus, Schneider and Anderson said.
“The building could definitely use some upgrades. The interior is outdated and you can tell that it hasn’t been upgraded in a long time. There are some places where there is cracking in the ceiling and walls, too,” Anderson said.
The current sport science department site originally belonged to Belmont Heights Baptist Church, said Director of Facilities Management Services Henry Lacher, who estimated that the building was built in the mid-1980s.
The Hitch Science Building, however, was built in 1975, Lacher said. This means that, if the department’s proposal is approved next calendar year, it will be sharing space in a building 10 years older than its current building.
For Schneider, no matter the age of the buildings, the goal of the proposal is to allow for growth within the department.
“We spent a good bit of time trying to figure out what needs we had for more space and how we could grow into the space if we were to acquire it,” Schneider said. “One of our needs is for an Exercise Science Lab and the space in Hitch has some rooms that would be suitable for that purpose. In addition, we are likely going to propose the addition of an undergraduate major in Sport Administration next year. If approved, this would require some much needed additional space for that program to grow into.”
And a little more visibility on campus would not be a bad thing for the department either, Anderson noted.
“It would obviously be better because then people would actually know that it is part of campus. It could be incorporated into tours. When I toured, I wasn’t even shown the Sport Science Center, so I didn’t even know that Belmont had one,” Anderson said.
See the proposal here.