Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk confident in completion of ongoing projects

By BILL WAGNER | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: April 19, 2020

(TNS)  — There are no contests to attend, athletes to support or coaches to counsel.

However, Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk has been staying busy dealing with other issues related to running a department that administers 33 varsity sports.

During a recent interview with The Capital, Gladchuk provided updates on a project that suffered a slight setback due to the coronavirus pandemic, another that has slightly benefited from the crisis and his search for a women's basketball coach.

Construction of the Physical Mission Center that is being built as an addition to Ricketts Hall was halted for two weeks because one of the contractors thought he had symptoms consistent with coronavirus. It turned out to be a false alarm and the individual wound up testing negative for the virus.

Workers who had been sent home for two weeks will be allowed to return to the job site and construction is slated to resume soon.

"It was just a minor bump in the road and won't really alter the timing for opening the facility," Gladchuk said.

Manhattan Contracting began the Ricketts Hall expansion in May 2019 and the Physical Mission Center was originally scheduled to open last fall. Gladchuk said the $20 million cost of the project is being covered by donations to the Naval Academy Athletic Association. Ron Terwilliger, Naval Academy Class of 1963, is the primary donor for the Physical Mission Center and the facility will be named in his honor. He was an academic All-American who played both basketball and baseball for Navy and was named a Distinguished Graduate of the academy in 2013.

Terwilliger is chairman emeritus of Trammell Crow Residential, the largest developer of multi-family housing in the United States. Gladchuk said Terwilliger has donated more than $20 million to Naval Academy causes over the years.

Gladchuk said the Physical Mission Center will now be dedicated on Nov. 17 to coincide with the next major gathering of the Naval Academy Athletic and Scholarship Foundation. However, the facility is scheduled to be open and available to Navy athletes and other members of the Brigade of Midshipmen well before that time.

Meanwhile, the Naval Academy Golf Course renovation remains on schedule and actually might be completed earlier than expected. Eric David, who serves as course superintendent as part of his duties with the NAAA facilities and operations department, said they were going to open the course for six weeks from May 1 through the middle of June and allow play on a course that was not completely finished.

Governor Larry Hogan closed all golf courses as part of his "stay at home" order, so now work at the Naval Academy Golf Course will continue through that six-week period. David said the last portion of the renovation involves reseeding the fairways.

"We're going to keep the course closed and move the fairway renovation ahead into May," David said. "That will allow for opening the course earlier in the summer."

Originally, the Naval Academy Golf Course was going to reopen completely in late August. David is now hoping golfers can resume playing rounds in late July.

Riverside Turf is installing newer Bermuda grass technology on the fairways.

"It's been an absolutely phenomenal transformation. I believe this is going to become one of the best golf courses in the entire state," he said.

Lastly, Gladchuk said the coronavirus shutdown has not impacted his search for a new women's basketball coach after Stefanie Pemper was fired on March 10 following a 12-year tenure.

By contrast, wrestling head coach Joel Sharratt was informed on March 13 that his contract would be renewed. One week later, Gladchuk hired Cary Kolat away from Campbell to replace Sharratt.

"I've had a chance to speak to a number of candidates and have formally interviewed some," Gladchuk said. "It would certainly be much easier and preferable to meet them in-person but that is not delaying the process. I feel comfortable with where we are."

Gladchuk said the NAAA's finances have not really been impacted by the coronavirus shutdown. Ticket and concessions sales from men's lacrosse games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium are negligible and that is the only spring sport that charges an admission fee.

"Spring is a non-revenue period of time," Gladchuk said. "This situation hasn't slowed down anything in terms of ticket sales, donations etc. We are seeing the same level of enthusiasm and anticipation from our loyal fans."

Naturally, the NAAA budget would be impacted dramatically if college football is not played at some point during the fall semester.

"Football is the lifeblood of the operation," Gladchuk said matter-of-factly.

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