Historic MacLean Gym Takes On New Life

 In Local News

MacLean Gymnasium has fortified the Newberry College skyline and its campus community since its construction in 1923. Now, after a major renovation, the space has been given new life, and the historic playing floor has been named in memory of legendary men’s basketball coach Nield Gordon.


Over much of 2023, the gymnasium underwent a comprehensive restoration to breathe new life and functionality into the space. The iconic playing floor was refinished, repainted, and damaged boards were replaced, new windows were installed, and heating and air conditioning were added.


The renovated building will serve as a refreshed practice space for cheerleading, the Newberry College Dance Team, the women’s acrobatics & tumbling team, intramurals, and other student events.


“We are pleased to announce we have completed renovations to historic MacLean Gymnasium,” said President Maurice Scherrens. “None of this would have been possible without the generous support of numerous donors: former student-athletes, alumni, friends of the College, and our community partners. Having received these needed renovations, MacLean Gym will once again be the hub of campus activities for generations to come.”


The basketball court itself was dedicated in memory of Gordon, who led the program from 1963 to 1977. In his final season, he led the only undefeated college team in the country, posting a regular season record of 35-0. The team fell in the second round of the NAIA tournament in its third consecutive national run. That year, he was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year. He remains the winningest basketball coach in Newberry College history.


Gordon was inducted into the Newberry College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also a member of the halls of fame for Winthrop University, Wingate University, Furman University, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the State of South Carolina. He passed away on May 3, 2022, at the age of 91.


“Coach Gordon was a very animated coach. He knew how to coach, how to push his players to play to their capability,” said Moses King, class of 1976 and Newberry men’s basketball Hall of Famer. “He was a fun person to be around. He didn’t treat me like a player, he treated me more like a son. He used to say, ‘I can always replace a vehicle, but I can’t replace you, so you be careful out there.’ He will be a person I will always be grateful to, because he helped me to become the person that I am today.”


MacLean Gymasium was home to Newberry basketball for 58 years before Eleazer Arena took over in the 1981-82 season. It has hosted Homecoming balls, commencements, competitions, receptions, and numerous other functions throughout its century of service.


The building was named in 1955 for Fred “Dutch” MacLean (1888 — 1964), legendary student-athlete, English professor, and coach for football, basketball and baseball from 1921-38. MacLean led Newberry basketball to four consecutive state championships between 1921 and 1924. In 1976, he was posthumously inducted as one of the inaugural members of the Newberry College Athletic Hall of Fame.