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Fresno Bee, The (CA)

November 9, 1995


Author: Andy Boogaard The Fresno Bee

Estimated printed pages: 2

Article Text:

From worst to first in the Western Athletic Conference - that's where Fresno State's headed with today's ground-breaking of a $1.37 million strength and conditioning center beyond Beiden Field's right-field fence.

Completion is scheduled for June 1.

"Awesome," said Bulldogs strength coordinator Steve Sobonya, who will supervise approximately 400 athletes in a 10,800 square-foot facility that will include two offices, a conference room, two restrooms and a storage room.

But it wasn't all good news Wednesday - Bulldogs coach Jim Sweeney said quarterback Richie Donati broke a rib against Hawaii and will probably be withheld from Saturday's home game against Texas-El Paso.

Also questionable, Sweeney said, is Steve Casner, the Bulldogs' best defensive lineman and the team's third-leading tackler. He left Hawaii with two bad knees.

Further, wide receiver Charlie Jones (flu) and fullback Reggie Brown (knee) were unable to practice Wednesday. Their status is day-to-day. Jones needs 6 reception yards to surpass Henry Ellard's school career record of 2,947.

The weight room will be the largest in the WAC and second on the West Coast only to Washington's 13,000-square foot facility, said Sobonya, who's already in the process of ordering roughly $250,000 in upgraded equipment.

"Like a kid in a candy store," he said. "The pieces of equipment that we will be able to utilize with this kind of space will be great. What we're trying to do now with limited space and a lot of people is dangerous."

Sweeney, who has found the wait agonizing while for 12 years stuffing his players, coaches and secretaries into the undersized Duncan Building and its 3,800-square foot weight room, tempered his enthusiasm.

"I'm just pleased to see it started," Sweeney said. "I've said enough about it, I don't want to say anymore."

When Fresno State then-athletic director Gary Cunningham announced plans a year ago to construct a weight room that would be completed this fall, Sweeney said: "Without it, we are doomed; with it, we have a fighting chance."

However, a new weight room functional for men and women alike was put on hold as the university accelerated a gender equity movement that targeted $6 million for women's facilities construction.

That was made possible when the school, using a $5.5 million Bulldog Foundation endowment fund as collateral, got a $4 million loan from Bank of America.

Les Snyder Jr., the school's associate athletic director for business, said the weight room will be financed through the same loan. Finding bids to meet the school's budget also delayed the process, he said.

Snyder said the plan is to pay the loan off through Bulldog Stadium seat option renewals in 2001.

Donati started at Hawaii and was thought to be experiencing back problems before being pulled in favor of Jim Arellanes in the fourth quarter. X-rays revealed the broken rib.

Donati was able to throw passes Wednesday for the first time this week, but Sweeney said he'd hesitate to use him against the Miners, who are 0-5 in the WAC and 1-8 overall. The coach had already announced that Arellanes would start for the Bulldogs (1-4, 4-5).

Richie Donati

Copyright (c) 1995 The Fresno Bee
Record Number: 1995313042