Lauries Donate $10 Million to Tiger Athletics

By Bill Dries

A guard on the 1973 University of Memphis basketball team that played in the NCAA finals that year and his wife have made the largest gift ever to the school’s athletic department and the second largest gift ever to the school.

Bill and Nancy Laurie are donating $10 million to the university’s $40 million capital campaign for development of the Park Avenue campus of the university where some of the school’s athletic facilities have already moved.

The $40 million goal was set by interim university president Brad Martin this past summer as he took office, following the retirement of Shirley Raines.

The Lauries met when they were both students at the University of Memphis.

Nancy Laurie is a member of the Walton family that founded the Wal-Mart stores. She is the daughter of Wal-Mart cofounder, James Walton.

Their sports management company, Paige Sports Entertainment, manages the St. Louis Blues hockey team, which Bill Laurie bought in 1999. He is no longer owner of the team. Laurie has also made several unsuccessful bids for various National Basketball Association teams, including what became the Memphis Grizzlies.

In 2004, the Lauries donated $25 million toward a sports arena at the University of Missouri-Columbia that was also named for their daughter Paige. The university renamed the arena after a cheating scandal that caused their daughter to return her degree from the University of Southern California.