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Fieldhouse cleanup in full force

Volleyball court is the main cause for concern; classes canceled; power is still off

PROVO — Officials at Brigham Young University spent Monday trying to determine the cause and effects of a weekend flood that immersed some areas of the Smith Fieldhouse in as much as five and a half feet of water.

Workers found the source of the flooding, a ruptured 8-inch water main on the south side of the fieldhouse, but still don't know what caused it to rupture early Saturday morning.

Alarms went off, but water poured into the basement and ground levels for about an hour before the main could be shut off.

Damage has not yet been fully assessed. Seven basement offices — housing byucougars.com and assistant coaches for various women's sports — were the most heavily damaged. But the main cause for concern and uncertainty has been the hardwood volleyball court on the main floor.

Water seeped into the space between the raised court and the floor, and the extent of damage to the hardwood, if any, has not been determined.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the water was removed and crews were circulating warm air through the small space, and early inspections of the court were promising.

"We are hopeful and optimistic by what we are seeing," she said.

Power remained off and the building remained closed Monday while crews worked to determine the extent of the damage to power transformers. Jenkins said it had not yet been determined when power would be restored.

All classes held in the fieldhouse's 15 classrooms were canceled Monday. Most of today's classes were also canceled, though some were relocated.

The closure of the fieldhouse will have a heavy impact on one BYU team. The women's soccer team, seeded No. 4 in its bracket for the NCAA tournament that begins Thursday, would have hosted the first two rounds of play giving the Cougars a homefield advantage.

With the fieldhouse closed, team locker rooms for soccer games, as well as working space for media and referees are unusable; BYU will be unable to host the games. The games will now be played at the University of Utah.

The women's volleyball team, which will host important conference games against Colorado State and Wyoming this weekend, is practicing in the Marriott Center, and could play those games there if the fieldhouse is not ready by Friday.

Coaches and athletic-department employees have been temporarily relocated to other buildings. Coaches, team members and employees were allowed to enter the building and remove needed items.

"Everybody is going to be inconvenienced for a few days, but when you're in season, you don't spend much time in your office anyway," said associate athletic director Duff Tittle.

Tittle said coaches mostly need office space for watching film, and other places were made available for them to do that in the Student Athlete Center.

Employees in the Athletic Media Relations Department were working out of a conference room in the Student Athlete Center, while Marketing and Publications employees were working out of the press box at Gail Miller Field.

Tittle said most athletic-department employees work on laptops, so moving them didn't create a major obstacle. The biggest challenge, he said, was the one given to facilities managers in trying to find places for all the displaced employees, but he said the transition has been relatively smooth.

"We had a department meeting at 8 a.m. this morning, then by 9:30, things were being moved and situated, and we moved the computers this afternoon," Tittle said. "In all, we probably lost about one day's worth of work."

Given the extent of the flooding, Tittle said, it could have been much worse.

The athletic department has not been the only group affected by the flood. University officials had to scramble Saturday to relocate a Pow-wow for the Boy Scouts of America, moving as many classes as they could to the neighboring Richards Building and canceling the ones that could not be moved.

Two LDS stake conference meetings for students were also scheduled to be held in the fieldhouse on Sunday. They were moved to the deJong Concert Hall in the Harris Fine Arts Center.

The indoor tennis courts, immediately south of the fieldhouse, were also flooded. Whether the rubber-based floor in that building will need replacing is unknown, Jenkins said.

University officials will meet today to further examine the damage and plan how to handle the situation for the remainder of the week.


E-mail: jtwitchell@desnews.com