DENTON, Texas -- The University of North Texas basketball teams will have a new training facility and additional scholarships, thanks to more than $3 million raised in as little as 30 days.
The speed with which the funds were raised is an indication of UNT's rising stature as the major public university for its region and the value of its athletics programs to students and the general public alike, according to UNT Athletic Director Rick Villarreal.
"The university has made significant investments this offseason with the hiring of coaches Tony Benford and Mike Petersen. People are noticing these exciting new developments and understand that these efforts will take our basketball program to new heights," said Villarreal.
The dedicated practice facility will be located in the Mean Green Village for the sole use of the men's and women's basketball teams. Currently, the teams hold most of their practices in the UNT Coliseum, but frequently have to move their practices to other courts around campus when the Coliseum is booked for events. The new training facility will allow for 24-hour access year-round.
"Athletes want a place they can call home, and when you bring recruits in you want to be able to show them that you are going to invest in their game," said UNT's men's basketball coach Tony Benford.
In addition to the new practice facility, the gifts will support more basketball scholarships and pay for the installation of a new video board in the Coliseum to replace an outdated system.
UNT alumnus Ernie Kuehne Jr. ('66) led the effort to raise the funds. This is not the first time Kuehne has given back to the program that once recruited him to the university on a track scholarship. In the past, Kuehne, who is managing partner of Kuehne and Shilling LLC law firm, has given UNT $1 million to support student-athletes and athletic facilities, including Apogee Stadium in Mean Green Village.
"This university changed my life and put me in a position to give back," said Kuehne. "This project was special because it was not in response to what other collegiate programs were building for their teams, but rather a need to fill a void for the continued development of our basketball programs."
Kuehne's fundraising team included:
- David Anderson ('99)
- Frank Bracken ('63)
- George Derr ('61)
- Ben Joyner ('74, M.B.A. '76)
- Bob Kimmel ('61)
- David Riley ('87)
- C. Dan Smith ('62)
- Robert Trachta ('68)