McCarthy will be replaced with new facilities

The Jim and Thomas Duff Center will replace McCarthy Gymnasium to meet the needs of the Department of Kinesiology and the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic.

Mississippi State University’s McCarthy Gymnasium is being replaced by the new Jim and Thomas Duff Center to update outdated facilities.

The center is named after Jim and Thomas Duff  brothers and entrepreneurs who donated $15 million to the project.

MSU’s Director of Planning and Design J.D. Hardy said the $55 million project will provide state-of-the-art facilities to the Department of Kinesiology and the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic.

The project is set to begin in the summer of 2023, while a rough completion date is set for summer of 2025.

MSU is still deciding whether McCarthy will remain standing during the early stages of construction or if it will be demolished beforehand. Any parking lost in the construction will be replaced with new parking elsewhere on campus.

According to Hardy, the building will reach more than 100,000 square feet across three stories  double the size of the McCarthy Gymnasium.

The project will include a new courtyard facing the Drill Field. The concrete surrounding the building will be transformed into a landscaped green space with trees and outdoor seating.

Hardy said that the combination of students, faculty and community members moving in and out of this area will make it unique.

"We want to activate these outdoor spaces," Hardy said. "We don’t want to make them a place to walk through but a place you want to stop and be."

Hardy said a new building was necessary to meet the needs of the growing Department of Kinesiology.

Designed as a basketball gym in 1950, the McCarthy Gymnasium was created for a purpose different from its current function.

"It'd be very challenging to meet their needs in that existing building even with a major renovation," Hardy said.

Stanley Brown, head of the Department of Kinesiology, said the current laboratory capabilities in McCarthy Gymnasium are inadequate, and the Duff Center’s facilities will make MSU a contender amongst the SEC’s strongest kinesiology programs.

"We will have the newest facility in the SEC. It will definitely rival Texas A&M, Auburn and any of those new facilities that have come about last few years," Brown said.

Brown said the new facilities will include an environmental chamber with variable heat and humidity and a neuromechanics laboratory to conduct brain research. These laboratories will accompany new classrooms, offices and a new auditorium.

The new kinesiology laboratories will work with the new Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic to provide treatment for patients, conduct research and train future professionals.

Daniel Gadke, department head of Counseling, Educational Psychology & Foundations, said that while MSU has always supported the ADDC with above-average amenities, the new facilities in the Duff Center will bring the ADDC to the forefront among U.S. universities.

Currently, the ADDC serves roughly 100 members of the community and 80 students. However, the new facilities will allow that number to double with new treatment rooms, intervention rooms and training facilities, Gadke said.

"We will now be moving into what is essentially going to be a state of the art, one of a kind, autism treatment and training facility for across the country," Gadke said.

Anna Lauren Green, a senior majoring in kinesiology, said McCarthy Gymnasium was old, and an upgrade to the facilities will be a positive addition.

"I feel like the teachers deserve a better place to be, and the air system is awful. It's really hot in there or really cold. It's never just, you know, a happy medium," Green said.

James "Babe" McCarthy led the MSU Basketball team to SEC Championships in 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1963. After his death in 1975, the McCarthy Gymnasium was given his name.

MSU's Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said that McCarthy will never be forgotten by fans or by MSU, and Salter is looking to the future of MSU.

"I think there will be deference paid to McCarthy's memory in this process. I'm excited about the Duff Center, and I'm excited about what that offers our faculty, staff and students," Salter said. "We have a real potential to change lives."

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