Community Celebrates Opening of Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life

Arizona State University Sun Devil Athletics Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life


The Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life, home of Sun Devil Athletics’ Office of Student-Athlete Development, officially opened on January 11 with a dedication ceremony featuring community members, project supporters and university representatives.

Mike and Cindy Watts’ transformative donation established the Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life, one of the premier student-athlete academic and professional development facilities in the nation and a resource for all 600-plus student-athletes at Arizona State University.

“We hope the creation of this space will go a long way and inspire other people, just like we’ve been inspired,” Mike Watts said to the 80-plus in attendance at Thursday night’s ceremony.

The Watts, who are co-founders of Sunstate Equipment, an Arizona-based equipment rental company established in 1977 that has expanded to eight other states, are involved in ASU in a variety of ways. Both are lifetime members of the ASU President’s Club, while Cindy is also a member of Women & Philanthropy and was vice chair of the ASU Trustees, and the ASU Alumni Association recognized the Watts’ in February 2017 as Philanthropists of the Year at its annual Founders’ Day event.

“The central theme that I see in your logic for your investments is you are about enhancing human potential regardless of a person’s circumstance,” ASU President Michael Crow said to the Watts family Thursday night. “You’re willing to be committed to the person – how can the person evolve, how can the person achieve their potential. You understand what it takes to build human potential. And this facility is a physical manifestation of that.”

The Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life expands the Office of Student-Athlete Development’s space from 7,700 sq. ft. to 15,551 sq. ft., increases the number of rooms from three to seven and workstations from 58 to 99. The renovated area also includes a nutrition station, four large screen digital displays for group study, five printers, and a Championship Life Suite, which encompasses 1,548 sq. ft. of space to provide comprehensive student-athlete development programming.

The central hallway that used to house offices for football staff members was removed to open up a space with café-like seating, wood ceilings and trim, and a glass wall that will allow visitors to look down to the first floor and the Bill and Judy Schaefer Hall of Fame. The offices at the east end were also removed to create more seating akin to restaurant booths, and computer stations with WiFi and USB power stations.

“There is so much power and strength that comes from being involved with ASU and the Sun Devil Athletics community,” Halle Harker, Sun Devil Volleyball senior, said. “As student-athletes, we pride ourselves on being the best fans of the other athletics programs in the department, on being advocates throughout our communities, and of course, making an investment in our own success, much like the Watts family has done for all of us.”

The completion of the Student Athlete Facility on the north side of Sun Devil Stadium in the summer of 2017 enabled Sun Devil Athletics to create the Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life as it opened up the third floor of the Carson Student-Athlete Center.

CORE Construction, which was the contractor for the project, employs eight former Sun Devil letterwinners, including Mike Marcisz, a former Sun Devil Football student-athlete who served as the project manager. CORE Construction’s other Sun Devil letterwinners are swimming alum Emerson Ward (2001-05), football alumni Kody Koebensky (2009-2013), Corey Adams (2009-2013), Jay Quitmeyer (2014-15) and Andrew Sampson (2008-2011), and baseball alumni Eric Melbostad (2013-2016) and Logan Spears (2012-14).

The completion of the Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life helps fuel Campaign ASU 2020 and two of its key tenets, ‘Ensure Student Access and Excellence’ and ‘Drive Sun Competitiveness.’ Campaign ASU 2020 is a comprehensive, university-wide philanthropic effort to accelerate ASU's mission and raise support for its educational priorities.


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