Courtesy of Rex Barber, Johnson City Press

MILLIGAN COLLEGE –– The basketball court at Milligan College is brighter and decorated now with the image of the school’s new fierce-looking buffalo mascot.

The court is located in the Steve Lacy Fieldhouse, the home of the Milligan Buffaloes since 1976. The fieldhouse was renovated beginning this past May with new signage on the exterior and a completely new hardwood floor for the gymnasium that goes from wall to wall. The building’s weight room was also redone. Revolving doors at the entrance were replaced with regular ones. A 24-foot-tall triangular tower at the entrance disguises the exposed architecture of the building and features images of Milligan athletes. The new Milligan athletics logo tops the tower.

A rededication ceremony was held for the fieldhouse Tuesday morning.

Bill Greer, president of Milligan, said the upgrades were needed.

“The building was functional,” Greer said. “It served us well for a lot of years, since 1976. But my wife (Edwina) and I just really wanted to enhance its appearance as much as we could.”

This project was begun in May with work on the exterior tower and signage. The floor work went into the summer. Everything wrapped up in late June or early July.

Now displayed prominently across the facility is the new Milligan athletics logo. The logo was unveiled this past year but the school has been slowly rolling it out. The determined-looking visage of a buffalo in black and white now adorns the new floor on the basketball court.

“We upgraded our school logo a bit, I guess last year during the school year, really just to modernize it, to upgrade it,” Greer said. “We have a new buffalo graphic that’s a little meaner and a little more modern, more in keeping with what you see today in professional and college sports.”

The re-dedication ceremony took place during the college’s first all-athletes’ meeting of the year, where athletes and their coaches were gathered to kick off the new season of sports at Milligan. Classes start today at Milligan.

“As much as they (student athletes) have school pride already, we wanted them to have more and really be proud of the venues they play in and the facilities they use,” Greer said.

Tracy Hardiman, a Milligan junior who plays women’s basketball, said it was a blessing to have a new gym and she can not wait to play on the new floor.

“It’s a lot brighter than it used to be, I mean, not that it was super dark but the painting has been renewed completely,” Hardiman said. “The floor brightens it up and the paint brightens it up and we have awesome lighting.”

Colby Robbins, a senior who plays men’s soccer, uses the gym for weight training and does agility training on the court.

“I just think it’s going to be a new better environment for all the athletes that use it,” Robbins said.

He liked the new logo too.

“I like the new one a lot better,” he said. “It’s a lot more modern.”

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Milligan’s student athletes and coaches were joined by family members of Steve Lacy, for whom the fieldhouse is named.

According to a news release from Milligan, Lacy was a 1931 graduate of the school. He returned to the college in 1933 to be athletic director. As a student, Lacy played football and basketball, where he served as captain of the 1931 basketball team. Once Lacy returned to Milligan, he assumed the role of coach of many sports. His teams won championships in basketball, football, baseball and track, and he was the only coach in the history of the Smokey Mountain Athletic Conference to win championships in four sports.

In addition to his role in athletics, Lacy served as Milligan’s dean and vice president from 1942-1947, and then became a member of the board, serving as chairman for 13 years.

Steve Lacy Fieldhouse is the primary venue for Milligan’s basketball, cheerleading, dance, swimming and volleyball teams. Over the years, it has housed offices for coaches and has been the location for thousands of students enrolled in physical activities courses. In addition, it houses the Citizen’s Bank Athletic Training Center, which benefits all of Milligan’s student athletes.