The University of Kansas is planning a $17.5 million apartment complex to house up to 32 men's and women's basketball players.
The complex is scheduled to open near Allen Fieldhouse for the 2016-17 school year. The Kansas Board of Regents is expected to approve the dorm at a meeting next week.
The estimated cost for each of the students would be $265,000, compared with $68,000 per student in two freshman halls being built on campus at a cost of $47.8 million.
KU men's basketball coach Bill Self said Friday that there is no question that the improvements will help recruiting.
"The thing about it is, and everybody will have their own take, but housing, where our student-athletes reside now, is way, way, way, way behind what the competitors would be housing their student-athletes in, in a big way," he said. "But there's certain things about it that's terrific, mainly being location. You're just across the street from a lot of things."
The University of Kentucky unveiled last year a $7 million dormitory for its players. Private funds from coal operators paid for the construction. The dorm includes a players' lounge with a pool table, oversized theater-type chairs and a private chef.
The current dorm where many KU players live is nowhere near as swanky and posh as what Kentucky built for its players.
"Bells and whistles are very, very important, and the one thing that I would say, as much as anything and we've said this all along, why did we build a new academic center? It's for the benefit, and certainly for the development, of the student-athletes," Self said in response to a question from KCTV5 during his news conference Friday.
The Kansas City Star reports each apartment in the basketball complex would have a full kitchen and living and dining rooms. There would be lounges on each floor, two team meeting rooms, tutoring space and a multipurpose room.
The university will pay for the project through private donors and bonds that would be paid from revenues generated by the apartment complex. Rent from students would also go toward the cost.
Due to NCAA rules, the university will also have to house 34 non-athletes in the building.
Self said the new building will have necessary security measures. He said too many people "can come and go as they please and basically take away all privacy these youngsters have," including agents, professional autograph seekers and others.
"I think we should provide our student-athletes a little protection so therefore they can at least have a better experience," he said. "And of course, we want them to be comfortable and have the same type of living conditions as the other people we're recruiting against. Certainly, that will be something that not only can we sell it, but people can't use it against us, because right now that's obviously something that could be used against us."
Self said he believes private donations and athletic department funds will cover the costs.
"Hopefully, it's going to be money raised privately. I don't see a big negative, but I see a world of positive," Self said.
Some students are hoping they can score one of the highly coveted rooms including freshman Jason Dodds.
"Living next to athletes would be pretty sweet," he said.
He said the building might be more expensive "but anything we can do to get recruits here is nice."
KU freshman Alex Hart said the Jayhawks have to keep up in the recruiting wars.
"If we can get the best players, more people want to come and then there's more money to spend on other things," Hart said.
Students said it's important that the facility be built with private funds rather than tuition dollars.
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