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Championing Student Athletes

by Amy Garland and Sarah Conroy


There’s so much more to a successful NCAA Division I athletic program than what happens on the court or the field.

At Saint Louis University, a brand-new, $20 million facility is providing a plethora of support services for Billiken student-athletes. The O’Loughlin Family Champions Center officially opened in October.

The exterior of the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center.

The exterior of the new O’Loughlin Family Champions Center.

“This state-of-the-art facility, shared among our more than 400 Billiken student-athletes across all sports, will be a game-changer for the University and our department,” said Chris May, SLU athletic director. “Our student-athletes put so much effort into our objectives, which are to educate, compete and build community. The O’Loughlin Family Champions Center is here to help them achieve their best in the classroom, in competition and in the community.”

Construction of the 25,000-square-foot center, which is adjacent to Chaifetz Arena, began in May 2022. The goal was to provide a best-in-class facility to deliver programming related to academic advising, spiritual development, sports performance, nutrition, wellness, sports psychology and more.

“The O’Loughlin Family Champions Center is a community investment in our University,” SLU President Dr. Fred P. Pestello said. “Our student-athletes have extraordinary demands put on their time. Having these services available to them in a single location ensures we deliver on our promise to support our student-athletes as whole persons, preparing them to thrive in the classroom, in competition and after graduation.”

The Wool Family Lobby looking west Launch SlideshowThe Wool Family Lobby looking west

The general contractor of the facility was St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Cos. Hastings+Chivetta served as the architect, and Perkins&Will completed interior design.

The $20 million center was privately funded with a lead gift by the O’Loughlin Family Foundation. Additional donors included John Johnson (A&S ’90), the Centene Charitable Foundation, Michael and Noémi Neidorff, Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz (A&S ’75), Jim Kavanaugh (CSB ’86), World Wide Technology, the Koman Family, Keith Phoenix (Law ’74), Mark and Joy Scoggins (VSN ’85), Floyd and Judith Crowder, and Linda and Alan Vogt (CSB ’69).

“While I can’t claim Saint Louis University as my alma mater, I appreciate the central role the University plays in the ongoing success of the city and our region as a whole,” said Bob O’Loughlin, chairman and CEO of LHM and director of the O’Loughlin Family Foundation. “Our foundation’s gift to create the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center is our opportunity to give back to this great city. A robust and successful NCAA Division I athletic program in the heart of the city isn’t just great for Saint Louis University, it’s great for our entire community.”

Athlete Amenities 

Student Success Suite

The cornerstone of the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center facility and services, the suite features space for spiritual development, sports psychology, and academic, career, and student-athlete development programming. The combination is unparalleled in the NCAA. The Student-Athlete Development Program offers a comprehensive curriculum to enhance support services and provide development opportunities for student-athletes. Programming includes personal and leadership development and mentoring/networking opportunities.

Performance Nutrition Center

Offering student-athletes healthy meal options on campus, the nutrition area focuses on personal performance targets, wellness and recovery. This space can be used for public events such as athletic alumni events and pregame receptions.

Team Dining Suite

Within the Performance Nutrition Center, there is space for team meals and other community-building opportunities. The space is equipped with leading-edge technology, so teams can break down game film during meals and meetings.

Basketball Operations Suite

This hub for the men’s and women’s basketball programs ensures the efforts in competition are being matched by necessary facilities outside of competition.

Technology Suites

These suites equip coaches and programs with state-of-the-art technology to serve their student-athletes during film breakdowns and other team meetings.