CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are two moments that stand out en route to today's groundbreaking of Marshall University's athletic indoor facility.
One signifies the struggles to get to the 2 p.m. Huntington dirt dig. It happened on Sept. 10, 2005, before the Thundering Herd faced Kansas State at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Then-Gov. Joe Manchin held up an artist's rendering of the building, which was to be named after former coach Bob Pruett.
That was eight long years ago. Before that, ex-athletic director Bob Marcum unveiled goals to build it back in 2002.
Then came a more significant moment. It happened at a meeting in Cincinnati. Current athletic director Mike Hamrick, then the AD at UNLV, had flown in to meet with MU president Stephen Kopp and two others within the school hierarchy for a job interview.
"I told Dr. Kopp not to offer me the job unless he was ready for a major [athletic] overhaul," Hamrick said. "I told him if he wasn't ready not to hire me because I would be the wrong man for the job. I wouldn't be happy. Marshall had fallen behind in facilities.
"I told him if he hired me we were going to roll up our sleeves and build the facilities. I left the meeting and called my wife. I said, 'We're going to be staying in Las Vegas.' Then I'll be darned if Dr. Kopp didn't call the next day. He said, 'Mike, come in, put together a plan, a vision, and we'll do it.' "
Today, Hamrick's vision starts taking shape.
"It's gratifying," Hamrick said. "Being an alum of this university, coming back and being able to do this is gratifying.
"This is a reality. At the end of the football season, fans will be able to see the roof. They'll see progress throughout the season."
It's certainly a milestone for Marshall athletics.
"When I got here, I realized all we needed," Hamrick said. "We've been facility-poor. You look at the schools joining Conference USA: Florida International, Charlotte, even Old Dominion. They all have better facilities.
"We had a little academic room in Gullickson Hall, which was [completed in 1961]. I counted one day and we had 17 computers. We have 370 student-athletes."
The new indoor practice facility will include an academic support center.
"It will be 14,000 square feet with over 170 computers," Hamrick said. "We'll have an auditorium that will seat 80 to 85."
That auditorium will be named in honor of the D'Antoni family. Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni and ex-NFL quarterback Chad Pennington have been instrumental in raising funds.
"Both worked tirelessly to get this built, to raise money," Hamrick said.
The new facility will have a sports Hall of Fame.