JACKSONVILLE — Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville State University’s multipurpose basketball venue, has sustained “major roof damage” after a tornado-warned storm passed through Jacksonville on Monday, according to JSU’s athletics director.
“Thanks for all the calls, texts and emails, and we do have extensive damage in Jacksonville,” Greg Seitz tweeted at about 9:30 p.m. “I can confirm we have major roof damage at Pete Mathews Coliseum, but ‘The Pete’ is not completely destroyed.
“We have staff on site and will update as soon as possible.”
The news comes two hours after JSU's men's basketball team beat Central Arkansas 80-59 in the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational in Conway, Ark.
Tyler Brown, JSU's media-relations contact for men's basketball, posted on Facebook that he and the team are "safe."
"Thanks to everyone who has reached out," he wrote. "I am in Arkansas with the basketball team, safe from the storms, but I am hearing terrible news out of Jacksonville. Please send your thoughts and prayers to our little town."
JSU is on spring break.
Pete Mathews Coliseum opened in 1974 and has served as home for JSU's basketball and volleyball teams. It has also served as host site for the Northeast Regional high school basketball tournament since the tourney's inception, in 1994, and the boys' and girls' Calhoun County varsity basketball tournaments.
The coliseum went through a major renovation, including new seats and a new playing floor, in 2015. The court was named for former JSU men's coach Bill Jones on Feb. 22.
Rudy Abbott Field, JSU's baseball venue, located next door to the coliseum, is undergoing a major renovation. Weather-related construction delays postponed the stadium's scheduled reopening at the start of this season.
There's no word on whether the Abbott Field construction site sustained damage.
Update, 10:30 p.m.:
JSU's official Facebook page said officials are just beginning get a sense of campus damage.
"Dear JSU family and friends: Our campus and our community were hit this evening by severe storms. It has only just become safe for university police to come out of shelter, and they are out assessing the damage and going dorm to dorm, checking on residents. If you are a student in need of assistance, please go to the University Police Department in Salls Hall or call 256-782-5050 or 911."
Update, 10:45 p.m.:
From Seitz, via Twitter: "We are still surveying all of the damage to campus and can confirm major roof damage to Logan Hall and Patterson Hall. Numerous trees and power lines are down. I’m very thankful JSU is on spring break this week and most students are out of town."
Update, 10:50 p.m.:
From Jada Arnold Grass, wife of JSU head football coach John Grass, via Facebook: "My family is OK. We are out of town due to spring break time. Our city has been hit very hard from these tornadoes. Please pray for our town and our families and students at JSU that were home during this terrible weather."
Update, 10:55 p.m.:
From JSU women's basketball coach Rick Pietri, via Facebook: "Truly appreciate everyone's concern. To those unaware, tornadoes touched down in Jacksonville tonight. Suzanne & I both are fine. At this time I can confirm that there is major roof damage to our Coliseum. Once I know more, I will let everyone know. Thanks again for everyone's concern."
This story will be updated.