By JOEL COLEMAN
Craig Charles has been attached to the Southeastern Conference for years having had a father that played a number of sports at the University of Georgia. Though Charles has since left behind his Georgia roots and moved to Ohio, the businessman is now the proud owner of a piece of the SEC.
On Tuesday, Charles won an online auction on GovDeals.com, a website that allows entities to sell surplus items. His purchase was the portable basketball court used by Mississippi State for the last 15 years at Humphrey Coliseum. He plans to place the floor in the approximately 50,000-square-foot sports training facility that he owns in Liberty Township, Ohio.
With several soccer teams that use his facility needing a space for futsal, which is a modified form of soccer played on basketball courts, and several basketball teams needing a court to practice on, Charles finally found just the opportunity he’d been looking for to improve his business.
“The past couple of years, I’ve seen these courts come up for sale, but I’ve never really pursued it because I didn’t realize we had such a need,” Charles said. “Now we have a lot of these soccer teams that are asking us for futsal and have all these basketball teams that are looking for places to train, so I started watching for (a floor). After I started watching, nothing came up for a year. I’d seen (floors) from South Carolina, Kansas and even the (NBA’s) Grizzlies from when they were in Vancouver. I’ve seen Colorado. I thought that next time a good court came up, I wanted to bid on it. I had to wait a long time, but I saw this one and literally watched from the time it came up.”
Charles had to go a bit over the price he’d originally planned to give to acquire his newest possession, but as luck would have it, things all worked out in the end. He’d first set about $25,000 as the amount he was willing to fork over to get the floor, but as the bidding drew closer to the end, he ended up paying a few thousand more than expected.
“That was okay though,” Charles said. “Literally, 30 minutes from the time I closed on things, I had a major soccer group with 68 teams that came in and signed a contract to use our turf field and they are very interested in doing the same on the basketball court for futsal. So we feel like it’s going to pay for itself pretty quickly.”
Charles will be able to get his new floor in July after Mississippi State’s summer basketball camps are complete. MSU will have a new floor in place prior to the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
When Charles receives the old court, it’ll look a bit different. All of the logos tying the floor to MSU will have been removed. Charles said that’s unfortunate.
Still proud of his SEC ties and fandom, Charles enjoys giving his friends up in Big Ten country a hard time. Though many of Charles’ buddies are proud of the Big Ten and their Ohio State Buckeyes, Charles wishes his floor would come branded with the mark of his personal conference of choice.
“I’d love to leave an SEC logo on it just to rub it in their faces,” Charles said.