Richard Jefferson Gymnasium
Richard Jefferson Gymnasium Photo Gallery
On Aug. 17, 2007, former University of Arizona men's basketball player Richard Jefferson pledged to donate $3.5 million to the school's athletic department.
Jefferson's donation is the lead gift towards phase two of a construction project that will include a new $14 million basketball/volleyball practice facility. The facility, currently under construction, will bear Jefferson's name. The project is scheduled for completion in October 2008.
The new practice facility will house two full-court basketball courts running end to end, east to west, as well as have room for four basketball cross courts and five volleyball cross courts. Drop down nets will separate the main courts in order to add flexibility to the multi-use facility.
The building is set 17 feet below ground in order to lessen the mass of the building that would be visible if the entire structure were to have been built at ground level. Even at its sunken level, the facility stands 30 feet above ground.
The design will be reminiscent of UA's legendary Bear Down Gymasium, the program's home from 1927-73, without it being an attempt at replicating it. The architecture lovingly mixes the traditional with more contemporary elements and has produced striking results.
The project also includes an expansion of the Mary P. Roby Gymnastics Practice Facility and the addition of a 33-meter x 25-meter diving well with 10-, 7.5-, 5- and 3-meter platforms and new 3- and 1-meter springboards.
Finally, improvements will be made to the entry way and promenade adjacent to McKale Center that will make the space more inviting for fans and students to gather for tailgating or socializing.
"I am pleased and blessed to be able to make this gift to an institution that has done so much to help me," said Jefferson. "For an Arizona kid like me to be able to give something back to the University of Arizona is very special."
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.
"This is a tremendous day for Wildcat Athletics," said Jim Livengood, University of Arizona director of athletics. "I cannot give enough thanks to Richard for his generosity in making a difference for our student-athletes both now and in the future."
A native of Phoenix, 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.
In seven years 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.
Jefferson was a member of the USA Basketball Senior National team in 2003 and 2004, and earned a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
"Richard has always been a stand-up guy, "said Arizona head coach Lute Olson. "For him to make this kind of statement about how much he cares for this program speaks volumes to Richard's character. This is a very, very generous gift."