Bill Hill (’75) was all of 12 the first time he stepped foot in the Assembly Hall.
“I was awestruck,” he says. “It was an architectural wonder. It consists of two concrete bowls placed face to face. Cost of construction was $8,350,000. I had never been inside such an impressive building, which was just two years old at the time.
“Eight years later, as a journalism student in the College of Communications, the Assembly Hall became my second home. For two years, I went there nearly every day as a student assistant in the sports information department. On many of those days, I would duck into the arena, and every time it would give me goosebumps.
“I saw so many wonderful events in that arena. The Illini basketball team wasn’t very good those two years — anyone remember Gene Bartow, who was replaced by ‘Lou Who?’ — but I loved being there.
“Sitting courtside, keeping stats for announcers like Tom Harmon, on the Big Ten Game of the Week. Helping with the Big Ten championship game in 1974 between Indiana and Michigan, who had finished tied for first and had to play a tiebreaker game at Illinois to determine which school would represent the Big Ten in the NCAA tournament.
“And the state high school basketball tournaments were the best.”