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Posted on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

University of Michigan Player Development Center named after former Pistons owner William Davidson

By Kellie Woodhouse


The men's and women's basketball teams practice courts in the Player Development Center.

Melanie Maxwell I

University of Michigan Vice 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.


Former Detroit Pistons owner and Michigan graduate Bill Davidson, shown in a 2006 file photo.

AP Photo

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."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

can't speak to the official name but the UN-official name could be THE 'WILL'.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

OK, so the official name of the new center is........ ????????


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

Bill Davidson is such an honorable man (despite his passing years ago). His legacy lives on, in many institutions in the state of michigan, in Israel, in the Jewish world, and in the general public. He is an example of a generous man, who earned a lot, but shared a lot and didn't live "big". He is an example to all of us and just as Chas Woodson was such a bright example in his donation to the Mott Children's Hospital, Mr. Davidson too is a good example of sharing one's success with the world. (It's not only to athletics that Davidson has donated. He once was the largest donor to the business school until Stephen Ross came around).

Chad Williams

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Its about time. Michigan basketball and football has been finally learning 2012. 10 years ago there was no student section football or basketball. Michigan has an enormus history in everything. The thing is as time movesforward some of those things get left behind. For years guys left michigan to play elsewhere if not msu. Michigan basketball isnt the "storied" program as in football therefore they couldn't get talent to come here and if they didnt develop very well. Now you see proof this year. This team was a solid team and the record isnt surprising. What surprises you is how they have that ten game span where they lost 7 or 8 games. Stu said it himself he has a bad game I can go work on it. They have not lost two in a row all year. This facility has made this team potential sweet 16 elite 8 category. This facility has given them trey burke or tim hardway better yet next years recruiting class. Outside of those two the rest of the team is guys who were program guys and quite frankly had nothing else. They fit the system but now your gonna get those system guys but now your also getting flat out ballers know what system. Final Four next year.

David Kempner

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

To Treetowncartel - your memory is faulty. For many many years ... long before Fisher, Crisler was consistently sold out. It got to be a joke when they announced the attendance. Always 13,609 -- the arena's capacity. You obviously were not there during the days before Glen Rice and the National Championship team. Lest you forget, there was the Grant-Jobert-Relford-Wade-Tarpley team, and before that McCormick, Eric Turner, et al., and before that Hubbard, Grote, Kupek, and even before that ... the days when Campy played on a great freshman team that used to fill the arena in the game that was played before the varsity even took the floor. I loved the Fab Five and would like to see their banners go up again. (note to Webber: follow Woodson's lead and the U of M will have no choice but to welcome you back) But the resurgence of Michigan basketball goes back to the Orr-Freider era that came before Fisher. p.s. The last Michigan team to win the Big 10 was, I believe, the 1987 team.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

You missed Mike McGee and Johmnny Jphnson. Memory isn;t faulty by any means. We had season tickets and I started going to games in the later 70's. I also used to sell pops in the stands and worked concessions. Tickets may have been sold but in the late 70's to early 80's Tuesday night games were pretty empty up there. Once the Flint connection began things started to change. The Fab 5 had that place packed consistently, and that is when MIchigan reallly started merchandising their b-ball swag.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

Call it what you want, but is the practice facility that Steve Fisher, the 89 Championshiip team and the Fab 5 built. U of M marketed that era well to make their basketball program a revenue generating sport. The old""Gold" section was at about 10-20 % capacity until the the afformentioned individuals arrived on the scene.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:02 a.m.

A great facility named for a great man . . . Thanks to the William Davidson Foundation for their generosity!