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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona basketball program gets $2.9 million gift

Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

African Cultural Showcase held by the African Student Association at the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom on Saturday, April 10.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat African Cultural Showcase held by the African Student Association at the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom on Saturday, April 10.

Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller has shared the vision for his players to be bigger and stronger from day one. On Tuesday, the basketball program received a $2.65 million gift that will help him meet that goal.

Interim athletic director Kathleen ‘Rocky’ LaRose announced Tuesday that Tucson’s Cole and Jeannie Davis partnered with Miller and his wife Amy Miller to give a total of $2.9 million for upgrades to McKale Center and a new weight room in the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.

“”We love Wildcat athletics. We’re true believers in the student-athletes,”” Cole Davis said. “”When we met with Sean, we saw the excitement and when we were told of his commitment financially to this project it put us over the top.””

“”If Sean coming here has that type of commitment then we as supporters of the athletic department, we would do everything we could to complete his dreams to put this together,”” he added.

The gift was the fourth largest in Arizona history, and gives the couple naming rights of the new weight room that will be built in the east end of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.

Cole Davis founded the Keystone RV Co., an Indiana-based manufacturer of recreational vehicles, which he sold in 2001. The Davis family moved to Tucson 10 years ago and enjoyed Arizona athletics, so they decided to find a way they could contribute to the success of the athletic programs.

“”Jeannie and I love athletics. We like to win and we want to do anything we can to help us win,”” Cole Davis said. “”Winning isn’t just great for the basketball program or football program. Those programs support all the other programs at the university, those are the revenue generators.””

The Davis family has supported the Arizona Athletics program over the last decade, giving their first gift of $1 million to name the west court of the Jefferson Gymnasium in the memory of women’s basketball star Shawntinice “”Polkey”” Polk, who died suddenly in 2005.

Miller and his wife gave $250,000 to the basketball program in addition to the $2.65 million donated by the Davis family.

“”As the basketball coach,”” Miller said, “”I certainly would like to thank both Cole and Jeannie for believing in the future of Arizona basketball and believing in myself and the direction that we’re headed in.””

“”To invest in our future is something that is necessary,”” he added. “”We’re clearly in the process of doing so. We’ve been excited since the day we got here, so hopefully this is the beginning of a long and bright future.””

The money will improve the team’s locker room in McKale Center — it hasn’t been remodeled since 1994 — in addition to building a new weight room inside the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium, which will have workout machines that meet the needs of basketball players, according to Miller.

“”What’s good for Kyryl Natyazhko may not be quite as good for a guy 5 foot, 10 inches that weighs 200 pounds,”” Miller said. “”For example, to put a 7-footer in a squat rack, you make the case that would be stupid; they’re not built like an offensive lineman.””

The new weight room would primarily be focused for the basketball program and is expected to be completed by December of this year, LaRose said.

Miller envisions the new weight room as something more than a place where players can get bigger and stronger: its a place where players past and current can unite.

“”I hope if Jerryd Bayless wants to come to Tucson, and he’s here for four days, well maybe he’d want to stay for two weeks now,”” Miller said. “”Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill … can come back in the summer to finish their degree and they don’t have to do it at the expense of their training.

“”Maybe it keeps them in Tucson for four to six weeks,”” he added, “”and by the way, they’re going to help our current players and we can move that family atmosphere in the right direction.””

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