John Thornton has served as Chairman of the STEP UP Campaign
Aug. 23, 2003
As the sound of concrete pouring at the McKenzie Athletic Center mixed with the noise of another hot August football practice on Haslam Field, athletic department officials announced Aug. 23 that recent contributions to STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities have brought the historic effort to within $1 million of the total goal of $44.25 million.
In the past 60 days, more than 250 Volunteer fans have made STEP UP pledges bringing the total number of private commitments to 573. In addition to the aforementioned McKenzie Center and Haslam Field, STEP UP will result in the construction of the $20 million Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, the expansion of the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center indoor practice field from 70-120 yards, a new intercollegiate golf practice complex and stadiums for soccer and softball. Another STEP UP project, the Wolf-Kaplan Hospitality Center at Neyland Stadium, will mark its one-year anniversary next month.
"As chairman of the STEP UP Campaign, I am grateful to the individual Tennesseans who have come forward in our quest to ensure excellence in all of our athletic programs," said campaign leader John Thornton. "I am confident we will raise the last $1 million during the final quarter of 2003."
The funding plan for STEP UP consists of a projected $24.25 million to be raised from private donors to be coupled with $20 million earned over five years from the 2001 football and basketball ticket increase.
Work on the STEP UP Campaign began in the early months of 2001, and is directed by the Athletic Department's VASF office under the ultimate authority of the University Development Office. "With more donors continuing to step forward each day, we are optimistic that we will meet and exceed our campaign goal by the time our University authorized campaign window expires in December," said associate athletic director John Currie. "The active and inspirational work of our Campaign Executive Committee has made the difference in leading the campaign through the difficult economic times and other circumstances of the past three years."
Thornton, whose late 1990's gift drove construction of the academic center that bears his name, is joined on the STEP UP Committee by UT trustees Jim Haslam and Susan Williams, former Vol football players Charlie Anderson, Bill Johnson and Dick Williams, along with Brenda McKenzie of Cleveland, Gatlinburg businessman Jim Ogle and Vicky Fulmer. In addition to monthly meetings in person and by teleconference, committee members have made numerous personal calls on prospective donors.
STEP UP was publicly launched in November 2002, with the announcement of a $4 million challenge gift from Cleveland, Tenn., businessman Allan Jones and his wife, Janie. Jones challenged the Vols faithful to collectively match his commitment to finish the campaign. The Tennessee athletic family has responded with more than $3 million in commitments since that time, bringing the Campaign total to $43.25 million as of mid-August.
"This campaign is a reflection of our commitment to give all of our student-athletes, male and female, the resources to represent our great University in the finest fashion possible," said athletic director Mike Hamilton. "Meeting and exceeding the goal will ensure the completion of the functional and essential facility priorities we set a few years ago, while providing the momentum to help us address the needs on the horizon."
"Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Georgia, among others, continue to join UT in setting the pace for the Southeastern Conference and NCAA. I am proud that our fans and donors, through their commitments to STEP UP, are determined to do their part to make sure that Tennessee continues its role as a leader in intercollegiate athletics."