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Roethlisberger, Harbaugh return for opening of indoor sports center

By Grace Remington, Sports Editor

Hundreds of Miami fans flocked to the David and Anita Dauch Indoor Sports Center (DISC) for the official opening of the new training facility Saturday.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ('12) and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh ('84), both Super Bowl winners and Miami alumni, helped introduce the center.

"There's no better place," Harbaugh said after the ceremony. "There's no better facility anywhere, in pro football or in college football. That means it's real; that means this is tangible evidence of where the program is going."

The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured speeches from Director of Athletics David Sayler, President David Hodge, Roethlisberger, Harbaugh, Miami alumni and lead DISC contributor David Dauch, Miami soccer captain Haley Walter and Miami football defensive back Heath Harding.

The 91,000-square-foot facility, which was 20 years in the making, was built and funded entirely by donor contributions. Dauch ('86), a former Miami football player, and his wife Anita are the namesakes of the building.

"This is a game-changing moment for Miami football, Miami athletics and Miami University," Dauch said during the ceremony.

The $13 million facility features a full 120-yard football field with a synthetic field turf surface similar to Yager Stadium's. Other amenities include netting for baseball, softball and golf use, four 100-yard sprint lanes, a high jump area and long jump pit, storage space and an observation deck.

"Think of the places we would've went if we had this," Roethlisberger said, reminiscing on his time at Miami as he admired the structure. "We would have been able to practice more. We wouldn't have had to go on AstroTurf as much. You can practice here all the time, whether it's winter conditioning or bad weather. It's such an awesome facility. I know being with the Steelers, we have an indoor facility, so you can always get a day's worth of work in. So it's great for all students in all sports, that's the neat part about it, it's not just football."

The field is named after Roethlisberger, who donated $1 million toward its completion.

"This is my school," Roethlisberger said. "It's an honor to be a graduate and an alumnus. It's something that I was hoping for that in 10 or 15 years, my kids would come back and see their name on the field. So now it means something to them too."

Miami student-athletes began using the facility on February 9. It allows intercollegiate, intramural and club athletes to participate in training year-round.

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Harbaugh said he wishes he could have had the opportunity to use a facility like the DISC during his tenure as a RedHawk.

"It would've been more comfortable - we wouldn't have had as many turned ankles maybe," Harbaugh said with a laugh. "I told the guys we practiced on this very same field, but it was just more like a cow pasture back then. Miami's a great place, I'll treasure it forever. This takes it to another level. This is a statement that Miami football and Miami athletics are big-time."

When Miami held its Pro Day in the center on March 12, several scouts and coaches commented on the impressive edifice and compared it to NFL facilities. Both Roethlisberger and Harbaugh said they had heard the stories before visiting.

"There were coaches and scouts that came to me and said, 'This indoor facility, wait till you see it. It blows away a lot of places, multiple NFL and colleges,'" Roethlisberger said. "If I would have had this on my Pro Day - I mean, I was outside on the AstroTurf, you get bad weather. Hopefully this facility can help get more players here, raise the football program here and in other sports and get more Miami guys in the NFL."

Head coach Chuck Martin said he believes the indoor sports center and the support from big names like Roethlisberger and Harbaugh will be an advantage in recruiting.

"You can brag about them as alums, but when families and kids hear that they're actively involved - you know we love the fact that Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes and Ara Parseghain and John Pont and all these famous people coached here - but [Roethlisberger and Harbaugh] are the tie to these high school kids," Martin said.

"There's not many high school kids who know who Bo and Woody are anymore, but they know John Harbaugh as the head coach of the Ravens, and they know Ben Roethlisberger as the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Steelers. So that's our bridge to these kids, and it really helps us in recruiting."

Despite their NFL teams' rivalry, Harbaugh and Roethlisberger share a bond through Miami. The Super Bowl winners hope to stay involved with all Miami athletic programs and contribute to future generations of RedHawk greats.

"Before every game we talk to each other at midfield, and 99.9 percent of the time it's about Miami and the football program and what's happening," Roethlisberger said, in reference to his and Harbaugh's regular season NFL meetings. "People talk about the rivalry that is Baltimore-Pittsburgh - and no doubt it's there - but there's also Miami. And that trumps all of it."

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