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James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center Opening Announced

The James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center will host its first competition on Wednesday, January 31.
The James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center will host its first competition on Wednesday, January 31.

WINCHESTER, Va. - Shenandoah University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bridget Lyons, Ph.D., announced Thursday that the university will host its inaugural basketball games in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center at the end of the month.

Construction video

Starting with the men's/women's doubleheader on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the Hornets basketball teams will host a total of seven games in the 77,000-square-foot facility to finish out the regular season.  

A second doubleheader, slated for Saturday, Feb. 10, is senior day for both the men and women. In between the 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. contests, the athletics department will dedicate the playing court the memory of former Shenandoah University Athletics Director/Head Men's Basketball Coach Dave Dutton and his wife, Kathy.

Dutton led the men's basketball team to the NCAA Tournament three times in his coaching tenure from 1988-2000, while Kathy Dutton founded the university's former dance team, the "Sensations."

As AD, Dutton presided over a department that entered the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (now the USA South), added six sports (men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's lacrosse and women's soccer) and oversaw the construction of Shentel Stadium and Aikens Athletic Center.

Both Duttons passed away in 2001, Kathy after a one-year battle with cancer and Dave from a heart attack one month after Kathy's death.

The university invites all former student-athletes who played for Dave Dutton, all former members of the "Sensations" and all Wilkins Athletics & Events Center donors to a ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, in the building's lobby, as well as the court dedication ceremony.

Also that day, from 12:45 p.m. until the tip-off of the 2 p.m. men's game, the university will hold a reception for all attendees of both ceremonies. This reception is slated to be held inside the curtains on the north end of the field house.

The facility, located immediately south of Sprint Field at Shentel Stadium, had its occupancy permit issued in early January.

Last week, the women's basketball team, along with the indoor track & field programs, moved into their locker rooms in the facility and began using the field house for practice. The men's basketball team will be moving into the facility full-time following its home game this coming Wednesday versus Bridgewater.

The university plans to make the 200-meter indoor track available for public use on a limited basis in the near future.

"We are so excited to be hosting our first games on January 31," Dr. Lyons said. "This facility is amazing, and we can't wait to show it off to our fans here in the northern Shenandoah Valley."

Admission is free to all of the above events. This includes all regular season men's and women's basketball games through Feb. 14.