On October 19, 2021, Billikens Athletics announced the addition of the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center. The state-of-the art, twenty-million dollar facility is set to open beginning in 2023. The facility is entirely privately funded with the primary donation coming from CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management, Bob O’Loughlin, along with donations from numerous other individuals.
While O’Loughlin has placed the largest and primary funds down, he is not the only donating individual. The full list of donors includes Bob and Kathy O’Loughlin, Centene Corporation (Student Success Suite), Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz (Basketball Operations Suites), Joe and Daria Conran, Jim Kavanaugh and World Wide Technology (Soccer Operations Suites), Michael and Noémi Neidorff (Student Success Suite), Keith Phoenix (Team Dining Suite), Mark & Joy Scoggins and Floyd & Judith Crowder (Technology Suite), Linda and Alan Vogt (Student-Athlete Development Program), Don and Nancy Ross, Pat and Peggy Sly, Greg, Stubblefield and Nancy Apel, The Wool Family, Pat Arnall, Scott and Linsey Highmark, Larry and Kathy Hill, Joe and Kim Koenig, Larry and Dot LeGrand, Bo and Terry Mehan, Michael and Marsha Nester, Dr. Bob and Cinda Ryan, Jerry Thomasson as well as two anonymous donors (Performance Nutrition Center).
Each area of the addition is designed to bring an edge to the performance of SLU’s student-athletes. As expressed by Athletic Director Chris May, this new building and development will bring Saint Louis University athletics to the same level and caliber as some of the most recognized and acclaimed athletic departments in the country. The Student Success Suite will be the cornerstone of the new building, which will work to continue producing the kinds of athletes and people that Saint Louis University athletics strives to create. Offering counseling services related to career, spiritual, psychological and academic issues, the new center will be a hub for athletes to take steps for success in their athletic and academic performances. For example, The Performance Nutrition Center will offer athletes the opportunity to learn how to fuel their bodies, optimizing recovery and performance. It also offers athletes a community space where they can join together across teams in order to create a stronger sense of unity within the department. The Team Dining Suite will allow SLU teams to simultaneously dine and break down film or perform scouting against upcoming opponents.
Richard A. Chaifetz, Ph.D, is known for his passionate love of the SLU basketball team, which led him to produce a donation towards a new hub for basketball operations and recruiting. Jim Kavanaugh and World Wide Technology made a similar donation for Saint Louis soccer. The hubs are intended to create a larger draw for some of the nation’s most sought after recruits. The Vogt family has also contributed in the name of development for student athletes. The Student-Athlete Development Program is intended to allow student-athletes to reach their full potential through leadership, personal development as well as mentorship and networking abilities. Additionally, this program will tap into the successful Billiken alumni database, allowing student athletes to connect with understanding alumni who appreciate their efforts throughout their time in a Billiken’s uniform.
Ground is set to be broken for the two-story building beginning in 2022. Its placement will be on the right-hand side of Chaifetz on the green space adjacent to the Billiken Plaza. The center has been born in the name of creating the greatest opportunity for Billiken student-athletes. Beyond athletics, the center seeks to capitalize on the latest and most innovative technology and research to better serve the Billiken athletes. From proper food intake to mental health assistance to building a stronger community, the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center strives to create one of the most powerful athletic departments in the country. With the success of the Billikens this year it is clear that the SLU’s Department of Athletics is becoming nationally renowned.
Many other Division I schools boast their impressive athletic departments. Their buildings themselves speak to the level of competition at which the teams housed within play. Think of Clemson and their designated nap room housed within the Tiger’s facility. Many Division I athletic departments have athlete-only cafeterias wherein registered dieticians can control the quality of food and advise athletes on individualized nutrition standards. The Billikens are seeking to create something similar. Two classes of current student-athletes will not have access to the O’Loughlin Family Champion’s Center before its completion. However, this seems almost symbolic. After all, the Champion’s Center is intended to house, produce, and develop what the athletic department hopes will be generations of student-athletes.