NIU replaces basketball hoop system

By Lisa Taylor

In response to a potential safety hazard, NIU will spend about $38,000 to replace its current method of raising and lowering basketball hoops at the Recreation Center.

If funding is approved by the Board of Regents next Thursday, new electrical winches (used to raise and lower the hoops) and safety straps for all 24 basketball hoops at the rec center will be installed.

Alicia Cosky, acting director for the rec center, said these features will comply with a national safety policy and will be more efficient for the students who raise and lower the hoops, she said.

Currently, the hoops are raised and lowered by a student employee on a ladder using an electric drill inserted into the winch, and there are no safety straps.

Last semester, a student was slightly injured when a winch recoiled and struck him while he was standing on a ladder working on the hoops, Cosky said in November.

With the new system, a key will be inserted in the wall which will activate the winch, and permanent safety straps will be attached.

The new system will be less dangerous because the safety straps will provide security in case the cables break, said Conrad Miller, director of NIU’s physical plant. Currently, there is nothing preventing the unit from crashing onto participants below if the cables snap.

The new system also will be easier, since the hoops are moved at least twice a day for three of the six courts, said Brian Valdez, one of the Office of Campus Recreation’s supervisors responsible for moving the hoops.

Funds for this project are supplied by student and user fees through the regular revenue bond fund for normal operating and improvement costs, said NIU Controller Robert Albanese.

The bond fund paying for this project is part of money normally set aside for capital improvement projects each year and is not part of the $300,000 revenue bond deficit incurred over the past several years, Albanese said.

If the Regents approve, Manning Electric, Inc. of Rochelle will be awarded the lowest bid of $34,725 for construction, said Don Widick, director of materials management, the department which assists with bid negotiations. With a 9 percent contingency, the total will be $37,850.

Work is scheduled tentatively for a two-week period beginning during spring break, Widick said.

The new system was designed by Forrest Struthers, NIU Physical Plant construction superintendent.