Penny Hardaway Sets Record With Assist To Tiger Athletics
Aug. 21, 2008
Memphis, TN - - The Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway Hall of Fame Artist's Renderings
Former University of Memphis and NBA star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, who amazed fans with his on and off court abilities for the Tigers from 1991-93, has donated $1 million to the Athletic Department to construct a Sports Hall of Fame. Hardaway's gift is the single-largest donation ever made by a former Tiger athlete to the department.
The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon during a press conference in the University's Athletic Office Building. The Hall of Fame will be a part of a new building phase which will increase the size of the AOB by nearly 20,000 square feet to approximately 88,000 square feet.
"This is an exciting time. As all of you know, this is not the best of times financially for anybody, and everyone is certainly looking for any type of help they can get. One of our most distinguished alums, and certainly one of our best basketball players, Mr. Penny Hardaway, has informed us that he wants to help and he wants to do something that's pretty significant for us and our school," Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said. "We have said repeatedly that what we are trying to do at the athletic department we are trying to do with class, dignity and style. If anybody personifies that, it's Penny Hardaway. With what Penny is doing today, he will become our 34th ambassador, which is unbelievable and we appreciate it. Additionally, we will unveil our Hall of Fame. With this donation, we have decided to name the Hall of Fame after Penny Hardaway."
Hardaway, who has long been considered one of the greatest players to every wear the Blue and Gray, received his degree in Professional Studies from Memphis in 2003. Driven by a vow he made to himself and to his family prior to enrolling at Memphis, Hardaway continued taking classes at the University after entering the NBA following his junior season.
Hardaway's donation is something he has been working on for over a year and a half with Johnson and fellow Ambassador Alan Graf.
The AOB expansion is part of a capital fundraising campaign called "Building for Today's and Tomorrow's Tigers." The campaign includes the finished softball stadium, the currently-under-construction Frank L. Flautt Golf Center, the renovations of the Tiger baseball facility and the new tennis center, which is also currently in its fundraising stage.
"Today is a great day. It is a dream come true for me after growing up ten minutes from here and having a dream to make it to the NBA," Hardaway said. "To be able to go here, go to college, Dr. (Thomas) Carpenter allowed me to have the opportunity to come here. To have a great career, to play with so many great teammates, have great fans and great coaches, and to be able to live out a dream and come back and do something like this for the school, it's priceless for me. Little kids that grow up in neighborhoods where people tell you that you can't do things, well a lot of people told me that I couldn't do things and I didn't listen to them. I kept my dreams high and my goals high and I accomplished a lot of things that a lot people didn't think that I was going to be able to accomplish. So I'm so thankful for that and to be able to give back to the school and to the program is something that I'm so glad that I'm able to do."
The Tigers' second consensus All-America first team pick, Hardaway, as a junior in 1993, earned that national recognition from Associated Press, The Sporting News, Basketball Weekly, U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), John Wooden and Scripps Howard. As a sophomore in 1992, the Memphis, Tenn., native took home All-America honors from Associated Press and Playboy.
During his two years wearing the Blue and Gray, Hardaway swept every Great Midwest Conference (GMC) award possible. He was the Great Midwest Conference MVP in both 1992 and 1993 and also was named to the All-GMC first team both years. Hardaway received the Great Midwest Conference Newcomer of the Year award in 1992 and was selected to the league's GMC All-Newcomer Team that same season. A seven-time Great Midwest Conference Player of the Week recipient, Hardaway was named to the 1992 and 1993 GMC All-Tournament Teams.
An all-around performer, Hardaway led the Tigers in scoring, assists and steals both seasons and led the squad in rebounding in 1992-93. He is in the No. 14 spot on the Tiger career scoring chart and is ranked among the top 10 on the all-time assists and steals lists.
In his two seasons, Hardaway helped guide the Tigers to a 43-23 record (.652), to eight wins over nationally-ranked teams and recorded the school's first-ever and only triple-doubles. Hardaway's Tigers earned two NCAA Tournament appearances, and the 1991-92 team took a magical trip to the Elite Eight.
Following the 1992-93 campaign, Hardaway declared for the NBA Draft and was the third overall pick by the Golden State Warriors, but was later traded on draft night to the Orlando Magic. He also had playing stints with the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
In the 1993-94 season, Hardaway was invited back home to the Bluff City, where on Jan. 23, 1994, his number 25 became the seventh basketball jersey retired by the University. In the summer of 1996, Hardaway was a member of the USA Olympic basketball squad, which brought home the Gold medal from Atlanta, Ga.