Long Family Naming Gift Invigorates Fundraising Efforts
Fundraising Team Hits $25 Million Mark; Pushing to Close Out Fourth-Quarter Drive
Buoyed by the generous naming gift from Cyndi and Ken Long, the University of South Carolina Athletics’ fundraising team is in its final push to raise $30 million with the “Fourth-Quarter Drive” initiative to complete the financing of the new Cyndi and Kenneth Long Family Football Operations Center. This $50 million project is expected to open in December 2018. Along with the Long Family’s tremendous commitment, there has been a host of other generous donors that have stepped up to make the football operations center a reality.
“Our family was excited to step up and do our part, and we are passionate about supporting Coach Tanner and Coach Muschamp, but we certainly didn’t give the whole $50 million, “noted Ken Long. “You don’t build a building like that without a whole lot of people getting involved and doing what they can to help the program.”
The record-setting fundraising project has gained momentum from several impactful leadership gifts, including those from head coach Will Muschamp and former “Gamecock Greats” Tommy Suggs and Ken Wheat. Additionally, Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans and a 1958 alum, committed to a leadership gift to name the practice complex. In total, the Gamecock Athletics’ development staff has received 20 commitments of $250,000 or more.
Charlie Mitchell, a Charleston-based Diamond Spur member of the Gamecock Club, and Vic Roof, a Columbia businessman, are two other long-time Gamecock supporters who have stepped up with significant financial contributions.
“Providing Coach Muschamp and his staff with the best possible resources to recruit and develop student-athletes is something we feel very strongly about,” said Mitchell.
“In order to compete at the level that we expect, we must invest in our program,” added Roof, whose gift will name the building’s lobby. “Just like running a business, you can’t expect a return without an investment.”
To date, there have been 104 donors that have given $1,000 or more to the project with 31 naming gifts approved for the building. An additional 58 unique opportunities starting at $25,000 remain for other Gamecock supporters.
“Listening to the stories behind these gifts and naming opportunities has been inspiring,” noted Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “We’ve had children naming offices for their parents and former student-athletes giving back. We’ve even got a room named after (former athletics director and football great) King Dixon. It’s really tremendous to see.”
“The folks putting their name on this building, they aren’t just buying naming opportunities. This isn’t a transaction,” said Steve Eigenbrot, Senior Associate AD/Development & Gamecock Club. “These people support Coach Tanner’s vision, and they believe in Coach Muschamp. Every donor willing to put their name on this building is sending the message that ‘we support our Gamecock student-athletes,’ and that’s the message we want to get out to future recruits and to new donors.”
The football operations center will provide the Gamecocks’ program with a recruiting center, locker room, weight room, athletic training room, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, dining room, equipment room and player lounges; all in one convenient location. It will be adjacent to the new Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility and outdoor practice fields. With hefty demands on the student-athletes’ time for athletics as well as academics, this new facility centralizes all football activities to maximize preparations and allows for a more efficient way for student-athletes and coaches to conduct their daily responsibilities.
“The Long Center puts us at the forefront of facilities in college football,” said Coach Muschamp. “It shows a commitment from the University to future student-athletes, as well as the student-athletes we currently have on campus.
“This will be a first-class facility,” continued Coach Muschamp. “It’s going to be just fabulous for student-athletes as well as our staff. Right now, our practice situation is phenomenal. We’ve got the nicest (indoor facility) I’ve ever been around and two grass practice fields with plenty of work space outside of that. To get this facility done, I’m really excited.”
While the new football operations center has been a huge undertaking, don’t expect things to slow down in or around Williams-Brice Stadium any time soon.
“We’re excited about the space we’ve freed up in the stadium with the addition of the Long Center,” said Coach Tanner. “Look for some creative changes coming down the road to make our gamedays in Gamecock Country even better.”