As university president from 1962 to 1974, T. Marshall Hahn Jr. helped lay the groundwork for athletic excellence at Virginia Tech. Both Cassell Coliseum and Lane Stadium opened while he was president.

Hahn has long since retired. But he still played a significant role in the recent project to build a $21 million basketball practice center. Along with members of his extended family, Hahn made the largest of more than 1,400 donations that helped pay for the 49,000-square-foot facility that opened on Washington Street in August 2009.

In recognition of their generosity and Hahn’s longstanding influence on Virginia Tech athletics, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved naming the Hahn Hurst Basketball Practice Center.

“I believe the new basketball practice center will play an important role as a high-quality recruiting, conditioning, and practice resource in the increasing national success of the men’s and women’s basketball programs,” Hahn said.

His daughter Anne Hahn Hurst, who along with her son Marshall Hurst is also a namesake of the building, said that, “I am delighted that three generations of strong family support for Hokie athletics are being recognized in the fabulous new facility.”

Hurst added that her husband Leigh Hurst and mother Peggy Lee Hahn, both of whom died last year, supported the project as well.

Virginia Tech is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), arguably the nation’s best in basketball. The past two National Collegiate Athletic Association champions in men’s basketball, North Carolina and Duke, are also ACC members.

Along with providing much needed practice space, the Hahn Hurst center is expected to help both Virginia Tech basketball teams recruit.

“The first recruit that we brought in the building took two steps and said, ‘Dad, get my keys. I need to go get my camera,’” said Beth Dunkenberger, head coach of the women’s program.

“We’ve had numerous prospects say this is the nicest building they’ve seen,” said Seth Greenberg, head coach of the men’s program.

He added that, “In our business it’s an arms race. There’s a cost of doing business in the ACC, and this [facility] is an investment in the future of Virginia Tech basketball.”

Athletic Director Jim Weaver said the Hahn Hurst center “gives us an opportunity to be on par with every Division I basketball program in terms of recruiting.”

Weaver said the building also solved logistical challenges by providing basketball practice space outside of Cassell Coliseum.

“Basketball needs to practice in the fall, right smack in the middle of volleyball season, and volleyball has to play on the coliseum floor as well,” he said. “The size of the old practice facility [in Cassell] made it impossible for everybody to have what they needed.”

The Hahn Hurst Basketball Practice Center is designed to impress as well as to provide the space that athletes and coaches need to prepare for top-flight competition. For more details on the building and a slideshow of interior photographs visit the Web page dedicated to the center at www.hokiesports.com.