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VOL. 130 | NO. 162 | Thursday, August 20, 2015

University of Memphis Secures $24 Million for Athletic Facilities Upgrades

By Don Wade

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At a Wednesday, Aug. 19, press conference on its campus, the University of Memphis took the next step in its athletic capital campaign in announcing it had 60 percent of the needed funds for new football and men’s basketball practice facilities and that ground will be broken on each this fall.

More than $24 million of a $40 million goal for renovation of the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex on the Park Avenue campus has been raised – all through private donations. Athletics director Tom Bowen said both facilities will be substantially completed before the 2017-18 academic year.

The 76,000-square-foot football space will feature an indoor practice field, upgrades to weight and other training facilities, coaches’ offices, a nutrition center and dining hall, and an academic support center.

The 58,000-square-foot space for men’s basketball will be fronted by a public atrium – “Traditions Hall” – honoring Tiger basketball’s history, and will include new practice courts, an academic support center and enhanced weight and training facilities.

“The athletic facilities will be among the best in the nation,” said university president M. David Rudd. “We will compete at the highest levels on the field and off the field. These facilities are just one part of a bold vision for the University of Memphis.”

Rudd said he was confident the rest of the money will be raised and said other university enhancements coming online include a new music center for which the majority of the necessary money had been raised.

In fall 2013, interim U of M president Brad Martin announced the capital campaign. A short time later, alumni Bill and Nancy Laurie made a $10 million donation.

Tigers football coach Justin Fuente described the new facilities as a “major step forward” for the program. Basketball coach Josh Pastner agreed, saying in the past recruits have been lost due to comparisons with other schools’ facilities.

“It makes me so proud to see where we have been and where we are now,” said Bartlett Bank president Harold Byrd, who is a dedicated U of M booster and attended Wednesday’s event at the Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame. “The definition of success isn’t where you are at any particular point in time, but how far you’ve had to travel. And we’ve had to travel a way. Where we are now is pretty special.”

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