Niss Center Ribbon Cutting

AU officially opens “game changer” Niss Athletic Center, announces naming of Jud Logan Memorial Track

Published on Jan. 28, 2022
Ashland University

ASHLAND, Ohio – Friday’s dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Niss Athletic Center on the campus of Ashland University was a momentous occasion in more ways than one. Not only was the state-of-the-art, 125,000-square foot facility celebrated, but there was an additional special announcement as the indoor track was officially named the Jud Logan Memorial Track after the Eagles’ legendary coach and Olympian who passed away earlier this month.

In announcing the name of the track as well as an endowed scholarship in Jud Logan’s name that has already reached $100,000, Ashland University President Carlos Campo said, “Beyond the banners and beyond the scholarship, (Jud’s) legacy will live at this institution because of the man that he was. We are so grateful to Jud and the Logan family for their ongoing representation of Ashland University.”

Several members of the Logan family were on hand for the dedication, and Jud’s son Nate responded on behalf of the family, remarking that his dad “loved Ashland” and “poured his heart and soul into his (teams),” resulting in 59 individual NCAA Div. II national championships and three team national championships among many other accolades.

Nate Logan continued, “Our family is so grateful for this honor, the scholarship endowment fund created in his name, the naming of the indoor track and the naming of the indoor meet that’s happening next week, the inaugural Jud Logan Light Giver Open. It’s such an incredible lasting tribute to my dad. I know he would be humbled to know of the indelible legacy that he left on this university and on this community. Our family is comforted that his legacy will live on through this program and the future successes that they may have. Just like tradition never graduates, legacies never die.”

Jud Logan got to see the Niss Athletic Center and even oversaw a few practices in it before his untimely death. The facility has been up and running for a few weeks, and it has lived up to its billing as a hub of activity.

While the schedule varies, some days the Niss Athletic Center is in use from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. It serves student-athletes in the sports of baseball, football, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and men’s and women’s track & field, while there are also plans in place for the marching band to practice inside it and for the community to utilize the space for sports camps and clinics and other non-athletic events.

The Niss Athletic Center features an 80-yard turf football field with endzones, surrounded by a 300-meter six-lane track plus eight 100-meter sprint lanes. The spacious facility also has enough room for all of the field events with two NCAA regulation long jump/triple jump runways, high jump and pole vault areas and a throwing cage for discus/shot put/weight.

The turf field converts into a 310-foot by 175-foot area for soccer and lacrosse, while there are two 16-foot by 80-foot batting cages for baseball and softball. Other amenities include a conference room, a concessions area and an elevated viewing area.

No detail was overlooked, as even the windows are tinted purple in a nod to Ashland’s primary school color. The track’s running lanes are gray and purple.

What once seemed an “impossibility,” according to Jim Hess, chairman of the AU Board of Trustees, is now a reality, thanks largely to lead donors Dan and Brenda Niss, Jerry Ruyan, Jack and Deb Miller and Bob and Jan Archer.

During the ceremony, Brenda Niss briefly and modestly commented, “(Dan) is all about winning, and it’s that attitude that helped him want to give so much to this facility, to enable every athlete that comes to Ashland to succeed. We just want everyone to be able to succeed and we’re proud to be able to help.”

The Niss Athletic Center has already helped the Ashland football team, according to head coach Lee Owens. “This project, this facility is a game changer. It is a difference maker for the athletes, for the community, for the entire North Central Ohio area. (It) already impacts us here in a positive way every day,” he said while noting that the team has been practicing which wouldn’t have been possible with several inches of snow sitting on the outdoor field.

Al King, athletic director at AU, mentioned that very few Div. II schools have a comparable facility. “And, why do we have it?” he asked rhetorically, “Because it matters. It matters to the people here. It matters to give student-athletes and students of all walks of life the chance to come here and succeed.”