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USC Athletics announces $300 million fundraising initiative

Heritage Hall
The lobby in Heritage Hall — home of USC Athletics — evokes memories of victories past. (Photo/USC Athletics)

USC Athletics, one of the nation’s most successful and storied collegiate athletic programs, has launched a $300 million fundraising drive called the Heritage Initiative, announced Pat Haden, holder of the USC Charles Griffin Cale Director of Athletics’ Chair and director of athletics.

The initiative — the most ambitious in the department’s history — will ensure that USC’s student-athletes have access to state-of-the-art facilities for honing their athletic skills and continuing their academic successes.

“This initiative will enable USC to build on its stellar athletics history and support our many remarkable student-athletes,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “Their athletic accomplishments inspire us throughout the year, while their dedication to academic excellence reflects the university’s commitment to greatness in all areas, from scholarly work to the creative arts, from athletics to social service.”

Funds raised for the Heritage Initiative will support capital projects, annual scholarships for student-athletes, academic support and programming costs, endowments, and recruitment and retention of coaches and staff. Currently, the athletic department is approaching the halfway mark in meeting its fundraising goal.

The initiative, which will also include the department’s 125th anniversary season in 2013-14, is part of the university’s $6 billion Campaign for the University of Southern California, one of the largest fundraising campaigns in the history of American higher education.

“We have an athletic heritage unmatched by most universities, and we look forward to building upon that heritage,” said Haden, a former USC quarterback and Rhodes Scholar. “Along with our great fans and supporters, we are extremely proud of the achievements of our Trojan student-athletes. They win national championships and Olympic gold medals at an unparalleled rate while excelling in academics and volunteering in the local community. And they are coached by some of the best coaches in the world.”

The announcement of the initiative coincides with the dedication of the John McKay Center, a $70 million, 110,000-square-foot campus facility for all of USC’s 21 sports.

The McKay Center houses the Stevens Academic Center (which features tutoring, counseling, and study and computer rooms for USC’s student-athletes), a weight room, an athletic training room and a high-tech digital media production facility, as well as meeting rooms, coaches offices and a locker room for the football program.

“The opening of the John McKay Center is an especially appropriate time to announce our Heritage Initiative,” Haden said. “We are going from 30 years behind the times in our facilities to moving 30 years ahead of our competitors.”

In May, the athletic department announced an $8 million lead gift from former Trojan swim team captain and Philippine businessman Wilfred “Fred” Uytengsu ’83 and his family to help fund the $16 million Uytengsu Aquatics Center. It is the largest gift made to the athletic department by a former student-athlete. The aquatics facility, home to the USC men’s and women’s swimming, diving and water polo teams, will include a new diving dry-land training area, dive tower, coaches offices, multipurpose room, locker and team rooms, and scoreboard with video capabilities, along with a shaded stadium that will seat up to 2,500 spectators.

Other planned capital projects include renovation of historic Heritage Hall, upgrades to Marks Tennis Stadium, construction of Merle Norman Stadium (sand volleyball courts for USC’s newest women’s team) and completion of suites at the Galen Center.

John Robinson, one of USC’s most popular and successful football coaches, and Barbara Hedges, who developed the USC women’s athletics program during her tenure as a Trojan athletics administrator, will serve as co-chairs of the Heritage Initiative.

USC fields 21 intercollegiate athletic teams who have won a total of 117 national team championships. USC’s men have won 304 NCAA titles, more than any other school; the Women of Troy have another 64 titles. Four Trojans have won the prestigious Sullivan Award as America’s top amateur athlete, while two Women of Troy athletes have won the Honda-Broderick Cup award as the top collegiate woman athlete of the year, and 14 have won Honda awards as their sport’s top female athlete. USC student-athletes have received 61 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and include 29 Academic All-American first teamers and four Rhodes Scholars.

During the 2011-12 academic year, 10 of USC’s 21 sports finished in the top seven at the NCAA Championships, including the men’s water polo and men’s tennis teams, each of which won a fourth consecutive NCAA title. Trojans won five NCAA individual crowns, four were named National Players of the Year and 57 were All-American first-team selections, while three USC head coaches were honored as National Coaches of the Year.

Also in 2011-12, two Trojans were Rhodes Scholarship finalists, and USC student-athletes performed 2,100 hours of community service, including 16 football players who spent spring break in Haiti building houses and delivering supplies.

In addition, USC has more Olympians, medalists and gold medalists than any school. Since 1904, 418 Trojans have competed in the games, winning 135 gold medals (with at least one gold in every Summer Olympics since 1912), 87 silver and 65 bronze. In the London Games this summer, 41 current and former Trojans representing 18 countries earned 25 medals, including 12 gold medals.

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