Mizzou football announces $10 million gift for indoor practice facility

Arkansas Missouri Football
Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 13:00:04-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Missouri football team’s dream of a full-length indoor practice facility took a major step toward reality Tuesday with the announcement of an anonymous $10 million gift for the project.

The University of Missouri's Board of Curators gave the green light to begin a study for building the project near Memorial Stadium last month.

The new facility would replace Devine Pavilion, which is located across South Providence Road from the stadium and includes a 70-yard indoor practice field for football.

The Tigers’ athletics administration announced the gift, without naming the donor, and called it a “transformational contribution.” It is the fifth eight-figure gift to MU athletics, including three in the last five years.

"The magnitude, impact and timing of this gift is significant as we attempt to advance the indoor football practice facility project as quickly as possible," Mizzou Athletic Director Jim Sterk said in a statement announcing the donation. "As the SEC's furthest-most Northern school, it is critical that our program have a full length indoor practice facility to utilize year-round, and this gift, coupled with the Board of Curators' action earlier this month, gives this project great momentum.”

It’s the kind of project that many view as necessary to keep first-year coach Eli Drinkwitz in Columbia.

“We are grateful for the generous support that this family continues to provide to Mizzou Athletics, and believe it demonstrates a strong commitment to Mizzou Football and Coach Drinkwitz's leadership of our program,” Sterk said in the statement. “This is a project that has been a part of the athletics facilities master plan for several years, and it is something that is definitely needed."

Drinkwitz, who was hired to replace Barry Odom last year, went 5-5 in his first season with the Tigers and finished third in the SEC East.

MU canceled its bowl appearance against Iowa due to COVID-19. The Tigers and Hawkeyes were scheduled to meet Wednesday night in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

Drinkwitz, who makes $4 million per year, went 12-1 at Appalachian State in 2019, his only prior head coaching experience.

He previously served as an assistant at Auburn, Arkansas State, Boise State and North Carolina State and is widely viewed as a rising star in the college coaching ranks.

"One of the things that I quickly identified as a need, not a want, was a full-length practice facility for Mizzou Football, and on behalf of everyone in our program, we are excited, humbled and blessed by this donation to the project," Drinkwitz said in a statement. "This facility is critical to the year-round training and development of our student-athletes, and we believe it will help transform our football program for many years to come, just as the South End Zone Facility is already doing."

HOK-Sports, which is based in Kansas City, Missouri, will help with the designing and planning for the project, which will be discussed again at the Board of Curators meeting on Jan. 30, 2021.

After the new facility is built, Devine Pavilion, which was built in 1998, will be used exclusively by non-football athletic programs for indoor training.

"Similar to the South End Zone Facility, this will be another project that will benefit other Mizzou teams when it is completed," Sterk said. "By building a dedicated indoor facility for the football program, we will be able to turn the Devine Pavilion over to our softball, baseball and women's soccer teams to utilize on a year-around basis."

MU is the only SEC football program without a full-length indoor practice facility.