No matter how San Diego State fares in the Mountain West men’s basketball tournament — and the NCAA tourney to follow — coach Steve Fisher will have ample reason to boast to new recruits.

In the next two months, SDSU Athletics will break ground for construction of the Basketball Performance Center, having raised $10.2 million of the $14.5 million price tag for the facility.

Steve Fisher, who cuts down nets with regularity, is looking forward to new basketball center. Photo courtesy SDSU News Center

Significant gifts have come from San Diegans Jeff Jacobs and William Jeff Jeffery and a $1 million challenge gift from the Walter J. and Betty C. Zable Foundation.

In order to realize the foundation’s pledge, SDSU must raise a corresponding $1 million through a public campaign.

SDSU athletics director Jim Sterk said donors have so far given nearly $600,000 to meet the Zable Foundation challenge.

“As we look forward to postseason play, the momentum for the Basketball Performance Center project continues,” Sterk said. “Maintaining success in our basketball programs will be greatly aided by the construction of this facility.”

The 23,500-square-foot center will house two full-length courts, eight baskets, locker rooms, film rooms, team lounges, and an athletic training room for SDSU’s championship men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“The Zables were not native San Diegans but strongly believed in giving back to the community,” said foundation president Warren Magill. “With Mr. Zable’s love for sports, the foundation believed this opportunity was a great way to keep the Zable name alive in the community.”

A standout football player for the College of William and Mary, Zable was named to the All-America team in his senior year and later played semi-professional ball. 

He relocated to San Diego during his 30s, and in 1951, he founded Cubic Corporation, a leading technology company for the transportation and defense industries and a manufacturer of electronic tracking technology.

Zable was chairman and CEO of Cubic until his death in 2012.

Zable’s commitment to giving back spawned the creation of the Zable Foundation, a philanthropic force in sports, the military, engineering and science, and community services in San Diego. The four board members, who together clocked more than 100 years working for Zable, include two SDSU alumni — Magill, ’78, and John D. Thomas, ’76.

“We are committed to supporting Mr. Zable’s interests,” Magill said.

“The basketball center is the type of project he loved because it involves sports and the San Diego community. Plus the challenge aspect incentivizes other San Diegans to give.”

In addition to Jacobs and Jeffery, nine individual donors have made gifts of $200,000 and above, including Steven Altman, Terry Atkinson (’69), Jim Morris, Perry Feuer, Jack Goodall (’60), James S. (’67) and Marilyn C. Brown, Larry Willens (’68) and Ron Fowler, who was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2005. 

With its completion expected in summer 2015, the Basketball Performance Center promises to anchor SDSU’s nationally ranked basketball program and become a springboard for recruits to take their game to the next level.

— SDSU News Center