Athletic nutrition center to open

Courtesy of Baylor Media Communications
Courtesy of Baylor Media Communications

By Paula Ann Solis
Staff Writer

Since the announcement of a $3 million donation for an athletes-only dinning hall, Baylor’s athletics department will have more than a new stadium to show off in fall 2014.

Plans are currently being drawn for the more than 12,000-square-feet Beauchamp Athletic Nutrition Center, or the BANC, as it is already called in the athletic department. Nick Joos, the executive associate athletics director for external affairs, said the dining hall is expected to be completed sometime in the fall.

Joos said though the donation that made construction possible was announced Dec. 20, after the board approved construction Dec. 19, plans for a athlete-centered nutrition center have long been discussed.

“It’s been talked about for a while and it is something that has been very important to all of our coaches but in particular to coach Briles, the football program, the strength and conditioning coach Kaz Kazadai,” Joos said. “The dream and vision has been there for a few years.”

To help realize this dream, Bob Beauchamp, the CEO of BMC Software and the vice chairman of Baylor’s Board of Regents, along with his wife Laura, donated to the school where three of their four sons have attended. Though Bob and Laura Beauchamp both graduated from the University of Texas, they have a long history of involvement and investing in Baylor including the Bob and Laura Beauchamp Endowed Scholarship Fund at Baylor.

“Laura and I believe the attention created by a successful athletics program has an invaluable benefit to Baylor University by creating a platform that increases the awareness of Baylor as a leader in Christian higher education,” Beauchamp said in a press release made by Baylor University. “Our hope is that this new facility enables Baylor’s outstanding student-athletes to thrive both on the field and off, propelling them to great performances in competition, and excellence in their academic pursuits. Our family is grateful for the opportunity to support Baylor at this exceptional time in its history.”

The BANC will offer athletes the opportunity to workout, practice, study and get their next meal all in one centralized location, as the BANC will be located next to the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility along the Brazos River. Because of the BANC’s close proximity to the athletics department, Anne Hogan, director of sports nutrition, said her job will transform into a more active role in the athletes daily nutritional education.

“What’s most exciting for me as their sports dietician is that we will be able to teach them about making the right choices, hopefully put some cooking classes in there and potentially, this is a dream of mine, we will have the chefs become involved and really help the guys learn how to batch cook to prepare for the week,” Hogan said. “The capability to educate with the dinning hall creates a whole new world of opportunities because I can educate at every meal. I can walk out of my office and into the dinning hall and run into athletes eating and if they’re making good choices, they can show me without me asking because I don’t want to be seen as ‘food police’ for them. I want to be seen as just helping them and encouraging them to make right choices.”

Hogan said she thinks there is a misconception about the importance of nutrition for athletes and that many people assume an athletes nutrition only matters while they play in college. The BANC facility will teach life-long skills in proper eating and will soon disprove that notion, Hogan said.

Another beneficial aspect of the new athletes-only dinning hall is that it puts Baylor on par with several other Big 12 athletic programs, Joos said. One such school, the University of Texas at Austin, has an athletes-only dinning hall located in their Beauford H. Jester dormitory where most athletes live, according the university’s website.

This type of catering to an athlete’s busy schedule has come to be expected and when recruits and their parents come to Baylor, they often ask about exclusive or convenient dinning options, Hogan said.

“Parents are of course concerned about their children’s meal plans and where is it going to be easiest for them to go and eat,” Hogan said. “ The dining hall is an amazing tool for recruiting and the fact that it will be on the water, well, it will be beautiful, too.”

Joos said a date is not set for construction but it will be some time this spring semester. The facility will be available to student-athletes from every sport, however, because of National Collegiate Athletic Association guidelines, Joos is not sure as of yet if students on partial scholarships will have the same access because of parameters restricting how many meals students may be served.

However, Joos said with the national dialogue focusing on lifting NCAA restrictions, there is a possibility all athletes, those on partial and full scholarships, will enjoy all aspects of the BANC.