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Palumbo Center will be getting an upgrade

Greg Amodio is excited to see that another phase of the plan to position Duquesne University as a consistent contender in the Atlantic 10 Conference is underway.

Renovations to Palumbo Center, Duquesne's cozy on-campus arena, have begun and are expected to run into early-September, the school announced Wednesday.

"We want to put pieces in place to move the (sports) programs forward, but this also sends a message to our alums and other teams in the A-10 that we're serious about what we're doing," said Amodio, Duquesne's athletics director.

Work began Monday on the latest project, which calls for the installation of chairback seats from top-to-bottom on the north side of the arena and the replacement of existing treads, risers and chair backs on the lower level of the south side of the facility. In addition, a custom designed, center-hung Daktronics video board and four lower-level corner scoreboards will be installed.

Amodio said the cost is expected to reach $1.8 million, with funding to come from the university capital improvements budget.

Palumbo Center also is a hosting site for other events such as concerts and commencement ceremonies.

The move comes several years after Palumbo Center's third-floor administrative and coaches offices and the second-floor weight-training facility underwent a $2 million facelift.

Amodio said the school is in the midst of a fund-raising campaign to overhaul the men's and women's volleyball locker rooms. So far, he said, $1.3 million has been raised for the project.

"The work being done is yet another example of the university's ongoing commitment to provide the assets necessary for our athletic programs to achieve at the highest level," Amodio said. "The improvements will elevate the event-day experience for our fans as well as the student body as a whole."

Amodio's efforts to restore respectability to the university's remaining programs have had a major effect on the school's decision to upgrade the arena, for basketball and volleyball games.

But they haven't come without heartache. Amodio has been widely criticized for Duquesne's decision in January to discontinue the baseball, men's golf, men's swimming and wresting programs at the end of the 2009-10 school year in order to reallocate the savings to other programs, most notably basketball and football.

He's hoping for more positive feedback as current renovations progress.

"When people start to see the cumulative effect of this, hopefully, they'll get a better perspective of what we're trying to do," Amodio said.

The new chairback seating at Palumbo Center, which will include 560 premium seats located between the two foul lines on both sides of the playing floor, will downsize the building's capacity by nearly 1,000 seats to 4,406.

Current capacity seating is 5,358.

"We want a nice, intimidating environment (for visiting teams) by filling the arena," Amodio said, "with 4,000-plus fans."

Edgar back on the bench

Former Duquesne University men's coach Scott Edgar, a Penn Hills native, was hired as the new coach at Eastern Oklahoma State College, a Division I junior college in Wilburton, Okla. Edgar, who coached at Duquesne for three seasons (1995-98), was fired before the conclusion of last season as coach at Southeast Missouri State amid allegations of NCAA rules violations. Edgar also has served as coach at Murray State and was an assistant at Tennessee, Alabama-Birmingham, Arkansas, Tulsa and New Mexico Military Institute.

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