Special to Peach State from Ole Miss Athletics
By Connor Hennessey, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
Era, noun, a period of time marked by distinctive character or events. An era usually has an exciting beginning and a bittersweet end, depending on whom you ask, but it’s finite. Ole Miss Athletics is now going through an era-transition, from C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum to the $96.5 million Pavilion at Ole Miss, and man it is sweet.
Dirt started moving July 31, 2014, and 525 days later the dreams and visions of many will become a reality. The construction fencing has come down, the floor has been swept and it’s time to play ball.
“The Tad Pad was obviously a great place to call home,” Executive Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator Lynnette Johnson said, “but if you watch intercollegiate athletics at any front, you have to grow and The Pavilion means growth for our women’s program.”
“It means we’re putting our facilities on the same stage as everyone else in the Southeastern Conference and to be honest probably above everyone else,” Johnson added. “That stuff is important when you’re wanting to compete for championships.”
Head coach Matt Insell is thankful for his memories of Tad Smith Coliseum, but the excitement for the move to The Pavilion is at an all-time high.
“The Tad Pad was the ground floor of the rebuilding process in our program,” Insell said. “We’re ready to move to the new place, but we’ll always have memories (in the Tad Pad).”
For former players, it’s not only seeing the success on the hardwood return to Oxford, but it’s nice to see the new home become a reality.
“It’s big because you want an advantage in recruiting and what better way than having nice buildings where players can feel at home,” former Rebel and retired WNBA guard Armintie (Price) Herrington said. “It almost makes me wish I was back playing, because I’d love to go in and put my stamp on that building.”
Featured inside The Pavilion at Ole Miss is state of the art technology, making it one of the premier facilities for college basketball not only the Southeastern Conference but across the country.
“I think if you look at all of our facilities right now, you’ll notice we’re continuing to grow,” Johnson said. “You have to do that to be able to provide the necessities to have a major SEC Division I program, and The Pavilion provides all of that.”
Walking into The Pavilion for the first time is game changing. From the large video screen to the C-Spire Speed Zone, the improved leg room to the new court design — this place is awesome.
With that being said, we aren’t forgetting our past when we move from Coliseum Circle to All-American Drive. Tad Smith Coliseum will always have a place in the history of Ole Miss Basketball.
“There is only one first and this spring is the first of The Pavilion,” Johnson remarked. “The legacy and tradition of Ole Miss women’s basketball will move to The Pavilion, but the great moments from the Tad Pad will always be the great moments from the Tad Pad.”
“The storied history will live with this program and with what Matt (Insell) is doing with his staff,” Johnson added. “We’re going to make some new firsts in The Pavilion.”
Ole Miss women’s basketball played 536 games in 42 years at the Tad Pad. In that span they boasted a 410-126 record scoring 44,235 points. For Johnson, many memories come to mind when remembering what used to be the centerpiece of the Ole Miss Athletics complex, but the last three points made her smile the most.
“One of the coolest moments of all time was the way we closed the Tad Pad,” Johnson said. “Oxford native Erika Sisk hitting a game-winning shot at the buzzer to beat an SEC team while scoring the last points ever in the Tad Pad — you can’t do much better than that.”
First tip inside The Pavilion for the men will be tomorrow night at 8 p.m. against Alabama while the women make their debut Sunday at 1 p.m. against Florida. In a program filled with energy, it will mark the beginning of something new for the Rebels.
“I expect a big crowd when we get back from being on the road Sunday,” Insell said. “Let’s open this thing up in style, we need Rebel Nation to come out and help us pack it out Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Many are asking about the fate of Tad Smith Coliseum and whether items will be auctioned off. According to Athletics Director Ross Bjork it will stay for now, but her days of hosting Rebel basketball are done. We have a new home — The Pavilion at Ole Miss.
For more information and full details on The Pavilion at Ole Miss fans can visit the facilities page on OleMissSports.com.
Graham Doty of the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network contributed to this story.
For all Ole Miss women’s basketball news and information, go to OleMissSports.com, and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissWBB, Facebook at Ole Miss WBB and on Instagram at Ole MissWBB. Fans can also follow Ole Miss women’s basketball head coach Matt Insell on Twitter at @minsell. Additionally fans can get a behind the scenes look at Ole Miss Athletics on Snapchat under the handle, @WeAreOleMiss.
Connor Hennessey is a writer in Oxford, Miss. He works in the Ole Miss Athletics media relations office, and this story was first featured on OleMissSports.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ConnorUM on Twitter.