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  • Lance Sutehall

Pohl Gymnasium - MUW Owls

Photos by Lance Sutehall, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

Pohl Gymnasium

1100 College St

Columbus, MS 39701

Year Opened: Unknown Capacity: 570


Getting Ws at the W

Columbus, Mississippi is home to the Mississippi University for Women (MUW), a public institution that has over 2,300 students enrolled. Despite its name, the school’s enrollment is currently 23% male.

MUW started as a women’s only institution in 1884 when it was called the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls. This was the first women’s public college in the United States. It was renamed the Mississippi State College for Women in 1920 before another renaming gave the institution its current name in 1974.

In 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the school’s single sex admission policy was in violation of the fourteenth amendment and had to accept qualified men. Since that ruling, MUW has been a co-ed institution academic wise.

While the academics had been integrated, the athletic programs continued to be exclusively for women. In 1971, MUW won the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW) national championship in basketball, becoming the third program to accomplish that feat. The CIAW was the predecessor to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) which eventually folded into the NCAA. The point is MUW is part of women’s college basketball history.

Unfortunately on November 10, 2002, a tornado ripped through Columbus and MUW. The tornado damaged a large part of the campus, including Pohl Gymnasium. The tornado forced the program to shut down their athletic program.

In 2017, sports came back to MUW, this time the Owls would have men’s teams. Five years later, the Owls joined Division 3’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC).

The school has had numerous proposals to change the name of the school due to the fact that it has not been a women’s institution in over four decades. As of the writing of this article, no name change has been approved.

Food & Beverage 2

There is a concession stand at the entrance that sells basics such as hot dogs ($2), popcorn ($1), candy ($1), chips ($1), sodas ($2), Gatorade ($2), and water ($1). Have cash on you as the stand does not have a card reader. All proceeds go to the Owls Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

Atmosphere 3

When you enter Pohl Gymnasium, there is a trophy case showing off various athletic successes from the MUW program over the years. After opening a door and walking to the seats you see a sign that says “Win Every Day” as well as a USCAA women’s basketball championship banner. 

There is a running track that surrounds the gym above the seats and the players' locker rooms are upstairs by the track on the opposite side of the seating area. Only one side of the gym has seats.

Two LED matrix scoreboards are in each corner of the gym, which face the seating area. They display the basics of points, period, time, and TOL. The gym displays banners of the other schools in the SLIAC above the players' benches and officials' tables.

Neighborhood 3

Columbus is part of Mississippi’s Golden Triangle that also includes Starkville and West Point. Columbus is home to the Columbus Air Force Base and is therefore considered to be a Military town.

On the campus of MUW is Summer Hall where there is an art gallery that is free to the public. A few blocks northwest is Columbus’ Main Street, where other attractions include the home of Tennessee Williams and the Riverwalk Trail hiking area.

Dining options on Main Street include Harvey’s for Southern fare, Munson and Brothers Trading Post for pizza, and Huck’s Place for Cajun cuisine. There are plenty of chain hotels in Columbus including a Red Roof Inn, Days Inn, and La Quinta.

Fans 2

MUW does not have a large fan base but its students and alumni get behind the Owls, win or lose. The fans seem to be knowledgeable about D3 basketball.

Access 3

Coming from Highway 82, the drive to Pohl Gymnasium involves turning onto Military Road and driving until reaching 11th street where heading South will get you straight to the venue. There is a gravel parking lot across the field from the gym. Once inside, the gym is on the left.

Return on Investment 5

On my visit to Pohl Gym there did not seem to be anyone charging admission to the public. This means I was able to see a MUW Owls Women’s and Men’s game for no charge. With free parking, it’s worth stopping by MUW to witness just how good D3 basketball can be.


Extras 1

Tennessee Williams was born in Columbus. His childhood home is now a museum.

Final Thoughts

Pohl Gymnasium may not have all the bells and whistles of a D1 basketball arena. However, it is a great place to watch competitive college basketball in its purest form.


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