Dec. 8, 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona department of athletics dedicated the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium and the Kasser Family Pool on Monday, Dec. 8.
The dedications of these facilities came as part of Campaign Arizona Phase II, which included construction of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium and the Kasser Family Pool, expansion of the Mary P. Roby Gymnastics Practice Facility, and improvements to the entry way and promenade adjacent to McKale Center that make the space more inviting for fans and students to gather for tailgating or socializing.
The 20,000-square foot Richard Jefferson Gymnasium houses two full-court basketball courts running end to end, east to west, as well as room for four basketball cross courts and five volleyball cross courts. Drop-down nets separate the main courts in order to add flexibility to the multi-use facility.
Jefferson donated $3.5 million as the lead gift towards Phase II. The gift is one of the largest individual donations to the University of Arizona athletic department and is also believed to be the largest ever given by a current professional athlete to his alma mater.
A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Jefferson was a three-year letterwinner for the Wildcats from 1998-2001. During his 84-game career (77 starts), Jefferson averaged 11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He capped his career by leading Arizona to the 2001 national championship game. Along the way, Jefferson was an all-Midwest Regional and all-Final Four selection. He was the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft. Jefferson was the sixth Lottery Pick in Arizona history.
Now in his eighth year in the National Basketball Association, Jefferson has averaged 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, and has averaged better than 20 points per game twice (2005 and 2008) for a season during his career. Jefferson led the New Jersey Nets to NBA Finals appearances in both 2002 and 2003 and was an NBA second-team all-Rookie selection in 2002. He currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Kasser Family Pool is a 33-meter x 25-meter state-of-the-art diving well that features two 1-meter and three 3-meter springboards on concrete short stands. The diving structure has platform heights of 3, 5, 7.5, and 10 meters, each with Rough-Tex surfacing. The pool has built-in spray surface agitation and an air-sparging system under all platforms and two of the 3-meter springboards.
I. Michael "Mike" Kasser is president of the Holualoa Companies, a real estate investment company with interests in residential and commercial real estate in the Northeast, Southwest, Hawaii and Europe. As Holualoa grew, Mike and his wife Beth moved to Tucson in 1994 with their children, Violet and Mikey.
Mike and Beth contribute to a number of programs and colleges on the campus of the University of Arizona. They are most passionate about the College of Science, Museum of Art, and Intercollegiate Athletics. Longtime (Consistent?) supporters of UA athletics, the Kasser Family also generously contributed to Phase I of Campaign Arizona, as witnessed by the Kasser Family Sports Medicine Center.
Both Mike and Beth Kasser are avid athletes and sponsor several sporting events throughout Tucson and Phoenix including the Tucson Marathon, El Tour de Phoenix, Tour of the Tucson Mountains and the Tucson Triathlon Series. Mike is a collector of pre-Columbian art and his collection is on display at the U of A Museum of Art.
Dr. Robert Shelton, President, University of Arizona
"I am disappointed not to be with all of you today to celebrate the opening of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium and the Kasser Family Pool. This is a great day for our student-athletes, men and women, and I am very proud of former student-athlete Richard Jefferson, who gives back to his alma mater in such a meaningful way. And we are forever grateful to Mike Kasser and the Kasser Family for their continued support of Arizona Athletics. Thank you."
Steve Kerr, General Manager, Phoenix Suns, Arizona Basketball Letterman, 1983-88
"I'm really happy that Wildcat athletes will have access to an amazing facility like the Jefferson Gymnasium. It will undoubtedly help in their development as athletes, and it will provide our teams with a competitive advantage. Thanks, Richard, for making this happen!"
Lute Olson, Former Arizona Basketball Head Coach, 1983-2008
"Richard has always been a special person, and for him to make the kind of gift to make this facility possible just says so much about his character and his love for the University of Arizona. This facility will benefit Wildcat student-athletes for many years to come and we can't thank him enough for his generosity."
Jason Gardner, Arizona Basketball Letterman, 1999-2003
"I think Richard is a great person and a special kind of player, friend, and teammate. I think this will really help the community, fans and players. I feel that Richard's gift also shows Coach Olson's impact on his players in the way they give back to the University and to Tucson."