New center will better support Mason’s student-athletes


George Mason University Athletics has announced plans to expand the Recreation Athletic Complex on the Fairfax Campus to provide a modernized academic support venue for Mason’s 500 student-athletes and to improve resources for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The Recreation Athletic Complex in spring, with trees blossoming in the foreground
Recreation and Athletic Complex (RAC) on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

The Basketball and Academic Performance Center will include an expanded basketball practice facility with weightlifting, training, wellness, fueling, and hydration areas and office space for the university’s basketball coaches.

The 7,000-square-foot academic performance center will serve all Mason student-athletes, who combined for a 3.28 cumulative GPA last academic year. The current academic support facility is a trailer that’s more than 17 years old.

The $30 million expansion, half of which would be funded by Athletics, has an estimated completion date of summer 2026.

“When you talk about creating an academic environment where student-athletes feel great about learning, we are not meeting those expectations right now,” Assistant Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marvin Lewis said during a Nov. 30 presentation to the Board of Visitors’ Development Committee.

“We have good people who are doing a good job of supporting [our student-athletes], but the facilities do not match. This will be a critical project for us to impact not just our basketball program but all student-athletes.”

Lewis took over as Mason’s athletics director on July 1 after leadership positions at Georgia Tech, the University of Maryland, Georgia State, and Brown University. He noted that several Atlantic 10 Conference institutions have invested in their athletics facilities in recent years, which can give those universities a recruiting advantage.

“Sixteen- to 18-year-old kids shop with their eyes,” said Lewis, a two-time men’s basketball captain at Georgia Tech whose team advanced to the 2004 NCAA championship. “So facilities not only have to be operationally efficient but they have to be attractive…something that student-athletes can get excited about.

“We are 10 years behind and so there is a sense of urgency for me to make sure that [men’s basketball coach] Tony Skinn and [women’s basketball coach] Vanessa Blair-Lewis have the tools and facilities to work in,” Lewis said. “All of those [A10] programs are looking to elevate what they currently have and we are just playing catch-up. It is critical that we get this done quickly.”

Mason won A10 titles in baseball, softball and women’s outdoor track during the 2022-23 academic year. The men’s and women’s basketball teams boast a combined 25-6 record as of Jan. 11.