Ithaca College - Ben Light Gymnasium
Ithaca College’s main gymnasium was dedicated on December 5, 1964. The facility, with seating capacity for 2,600 spectators, is housed in the Laurence S. Hill Physical Education Center and was later named after former administrator Ben Light in action taken by the school’s board of trustees in February of 1968. Ben Light Gymnasium is home to Ithaca’s men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling teams. The entire gymnasium received extensive renovation in 2013 as part of a bigger overhaul of the Hill Center that saw improvements to classrooms, laboratories, office spaces, locker rooms, weight rooms and athletic training areas.
Ben Light Gymnasium has played host to a number of top-notch sporting events. The men’s basketball team beat Fredonia in the 1993 NCAA playoffs (the first NCAA championship event held in the gym) and has hosted numerous postseason contests. Since hosting – and winning – the 1993 NYSWCAA championship tournament, the women’s basketball team has hosted postseason games including NCAA tournament games, Empire 8 and ECAC Upstate postseason championships.
The volleyball team earned trips to the “final four” in 1994 and 1995 by winning quarterfinal matches at home against Stony Brook and Springfield, respectively. The 1994 “final four” was held at Ben Light Gymnasium and 10 years later Ithaca hosted the NCAA New York regional for the first time. Ithaca also hosts invitational tournaments for volleyball as well as postseason competitions.
The National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) championship meet was conducted in Ben Light Gymnasium in 1996, 2002 and 2014 and the ECAC championships were held there in 1990, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2012.
The 1990 NCAA wrestling championships took place in Ben Light Gymnasium, where the Bombers became one of only three teams to win the NCAA title in front of their home fans. NCAA wrestling qualifiers were held there in 1986, 1989, 1995 and 2001.
Ben Light was a football, basketball and baseball standout at Ithaca College. A 1936 graduate, he was hired as a faculty member and coach. Following World War II Light took over the men’s basketball program and guided the Bombers to a 70-51 record over the next seven seasons. In 1952 he was named the school’s first director of admission and placement, and seven years later he became secretary of Ithaca College. In 1968 Light was named vice president of development, a position he held until his death.
Laurence S. Hill was dean of physical education at Ithaca from 1929 until 1957. Both Light and Hill are members of the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame.