University of Michigan Player Development Center named after former Pistons owner William Davidson
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
University of MichiganVice President for Development Jerry May called him "one of the greatest and smartest alums" in school history.
University President Mary Sue Coleman referred to him as "a giant of a man."
One thing is clear: Bill Davidson, the late owner of the Detroit Pistons and a former Michigan athlete, won't be forgotten at his alma mater.
The school is naming the basketball program's new $23.2 million Player Development Center after him.
Davidson received a degree in business administration at U-M in 1947. He also ran track for the school. Three decades later, in 1974, he acquired the Detroit Pistons and owned the basketball team until his death in March 2009 at the age of 86.
The William Davidson Foundation recently donated $7.5 million to the U-M's athletic programs and has in the past donated to the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, helping to create the William Davidson Institute, which studies emerging economies.
Coleman called Davidson a "generous supporter" of the university after the Board of Regents Thursday unanimously voted to name the new building the William Davidson Player Development Center.
Coleman's only regret?
"I wish he could see how well the team was playing now," she said of the 19-7 Wolverines, who are a half-game out of first place in the Big Ten Conference. "He would be so pleased."
The Michigan Athletics Department will honor Davidson at halftime of the final home men's basketball game this season when the Wolverines host Purdue at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25.
The new 24-hour center features two full-length courts with 10 separate hoops, cameras that allow coaches to record practice, monitors inside the facility allow for instant teaching moments during practice, multiple lounges, video game systems and large-screen televisions.
The Michigan men's and women's basketball coaching staffs moved into the 57,000-gross foot facility in October.
Both squads use the building's locker rooms, team rooms, film room, weight room and practice courts on a daily basis.
"It just makes everything a lot easier on all of us," Michigan senior guard Stu Douglass said earlier this week. "You can get shots up after a game if you don't like the way you played or shot. It gives guys just another space to get better.
"It's nice and it helps the team out in ways I never really thought about (before)."
In January, Michigan held a dedication weekend for the facility, inviting back several former men's and women's players to see the building for the first time.
"I personally invited a lot of guys to come back, and some of them couldn't make it," Michigan basketball coach John Beilein said last month. "But that's not just our Player Development Center, that is the home of Michigan basketball now and forever. And I want every former player to feel like he can walk in there.
"This is his home. I don't know if we've had that (before), we have that now."