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CARBONDALE — Pete Wittman gave SIU the largest private donation in school history in 2003, $4.5 million, to build an improved academic and strength training center.

Twelve years after the two-story, 10,000-square foot Troutt-Wittman Center opened, Saluki athletics is putting part of a one-time windfall toward keeping it a state-of-the-art site for student-athletes. SIU plans to use some of the more than $600,000 it will receive from the NCAA later this month as part of a one-time distribution to upgrade the chairs and equipment in the center.

"It's been open for more than 10 years, and some of those things, like chairs, tables and computers, have deteriorated," SIU athletic director Tommy Bell said. "We're going to use some of the money to upgrade the Troutt-Wittman Center, and we'll possibly use some of it as an endowment." 

The NCAA is giving Division I member schools $200 million as part of a one-time distribution aimed at helping student-athletes' academic success, life skills and health and safety. SIU will receive $654,322 on April 19, or sometime afterwards, if it fills out the required forms and pledges to spend the money within the parameters of the NCAA's guidelines. The amount was calculated based on the amount of scholarships the Salukis offered during the 2013-14 school year, which added up to 198.81 equivalencies.

Schools received credit for one scholarship for every set of partial awards that added up to a full scholarship. Therefore, the largest departments got the most money, with Ohio State ($1.3 million) leading the way. Illinois State ($746,343), Missouri State ($702,241) and SIU got the most money of Missouri Valley Conference schools. Bradley got the least at $306,344.

The athletic department cannot hand the money over to the school's general fund, according to the NCAA. It can be used for summer scholarships for athletes, to fund the full cost of attendance for current athletes, or to enhance academic advisory services, among others. It can't be used for coaches' salaries, strength and conditioning equipment, or anything deemed to improve athletic performance.

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On Twitter: @THefferman


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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