Farewell to Murray Sells Gymnasium
After spending six seasons in a wood building in the valley at the bottom of the 100 steps, the 1965-66 men's basketball team had a new venue to call home when the Murray Sells Gymnasium opened its doors in the fall of 1965.
Dedicated on April 24,1965, the former 45-year home of the Golden Eagles was named after Murray C. Sells, an oilman from east Texas that left John Brown University a large estate upon his death, which eventually lead to the building of the gymnasium, athletic offices and pool.
Construction began in the fall of 1964 and continued through the spring of 1965 on the grounds of the former dairy barn that was owned and operated by the university. Former architect and current Golden Eagle supporter, Boyce McQuay, served as the lead designer of Murray Sells which quickly became a favorite of fans and even opponents throughout the region. The atmosphere and intimacy between the game and the fans was highlighted by capacity crowds cheering mere inches from the sidelines while the popcorn machine, operated behind the visiting bench, often distracted visiting coaches and players alike.
Constructed with windows spanning the entirety of the east wall, afternoon games became a challenge as the sunlight prevented ideal shooting positions throughout the court while air conditioning, which was never installed, often forced games to evolve into a test of endurance, for both the players and the fans.
Over four-and-a-half decades, fans witnessed numerous great players, including the six-time NBA champion, Scottie Pippen, as he starred for then-NAIA member Central Arkanas in the mid-1980s.
In the late 2000's, it was clear the Golden Eagle basketball and volleyball programs needed a new home as buckets hanging from the Murray Sells ceiling quietly indicated a change was imminent. As a part of the $9.5 million construction of the new Bill George Arena in 2010, Murray Sells underwent a $275,000 remodeling and now serves as a secondary practice facility for the basketball and volleyball programs, in addition to hosting a variety of Golden Eagle summer camps.