By VirginiaSports.com Saturday, September 15 2012 00:00
Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage announced that, following the formal approval today, Friday, Sept. 14, by the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors, the athletics department's new indoor practice facility will be named in honor of former Cavalier football coach George Welsh. The facility will be known as the George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility.
The facility, scheduled to be ready for the start of spring football practice in 2013, will cost about $14.5 million, including financing costs to account for pledge payments being made over the next several years. Nearly $12 million has been committed, including a $5 million anonymous gift that launched the project.
The 78,000 square-foot facility will feature a full-sized football field (120 yards long). It will have a clearance of 65 feet to its arched ceiling. A viewing platform will be available for coaching and videotaping of practices. All field sports at Virginia will have access to the building for training purposes.
The George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility was designed by VMDO Architects of Charlottesville, in association with Knight Architects from Atlanta.
"Anyone that has followed the development of our football program in the last 30 years knows that George Welsh is the person that consistently brought high levels of achievement on the football field at the University of Virginia," Littlepage said. "Coach Welsh had great teams, great players, and great coaching staffs during his 19 years as our head coach. Through naming the new indoor practice facility in George Welsh's honor, we recognize the impact he and those he coached have had on our program and the University as a whole."
"At first I was surprised and didn't believe it," Welsh said. "This is a singular honor and I feel very humble about it. I had a lot of help, between the great staff people I had and the great players I had for 19 years. It is also a tribute to those people.
"I think the indoor facility is going to help the football program. When I first heard we were going to build an indoor facility, I started thinking about the late 80s when we finally got enough money together to start the McCue Center here. For us to stay current at that time we had to have a building like that. Listening to the coaches today, the indoor facility is the big thing you have to have. I feel very honored to be associated with this."
Welsh coached the Cavaliers for 19 years from 1982 to 2000. During that span he recorded a 134-86-3 record to become the winningest coach in UVa history. In nine years at Navy he produced a 55-46-1 record for a career mark of 189-132-4 in 28 seasons. Welsh was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
"It will be an honor for our team and future generations of Virginia football teams to practice and train in a facility named for Coach Welsh," said Virginia football coach Mike London. "If you want to talk about someone being a foundation for a football program, George would be that person at Virginia. He showed that Virginia football could be a nationally-competitive program.
"On a personal level, I'm thrilled for Coach Welsh. He coached my brother Paul and I know the type of impact he had on his players. His influence reached far beyond the football field. He helped to mold them into the men they are today."
When Welsh took over the Virginia program in 1982, the Cavaliers had managed just two winning seasons, won only 33 conference games over the previous 29 seasons and had never been to a bowl game. Welsh reversed that trend quickly. After finishing 2-9 in his first season in Charlottesville, the team posted a 6-5 mark in 1983. The following season the Cavaliers posted an 8-2-2 record, placed second in the ACC and won the Peach Bowl.
Starting in 1987, Virginia compiled a conference record streak of 13 consecutive seasons with at least seven victories. The Cavaliers shared the ACC crown in 1989 and in 1995 and made 11 more bowl appearances. Welsh's 1989 squad won a school-record 10 games and in 1990 the Cavaliers were ranked No. 1 in both major media polls for the first time in the program's history. In 1995 the Cavaliers defeated Florida State to hand the Seminoles their first-ever ACC defeat.
Welsh was named the ACC Coach of the Year four times - 1983, 1984, 1991 and 1995. He retired as the winningest coach in conference history with 134 victories. His career win total of 189 was the 24th most in Division I history at the time of his retirement.
The Virginia Athletics Foundation is continuing to raise the remaining contributions required to fund the entire project. For more information on the project, visit www.UVAindoorfacility.com.
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