Athletics News

Memphis Receives Major Gift for Women's Athletics

Nov. 16, 2012

It is, quite frankly, the largest single gift for women's athletics in the history of the University of Memphis. The Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust (Foundation) presented a gift of $2.6 million to Athletics Director Tom Bowen earmarked for facility construction and development in support of various women's athletic programs.

"One of our goals at the University of Memphis is to always remain at the forefront of women's athletics and to be compliant under the guidelines of Title IX and gender equity issues," said Bowen. "With the gift from the Hardin Foundation, we can begin additional facility construction projects that will benefit our women's programs as we enter the BIG EAST Conference next year."

The athletic department released its new Strategic Plan for Athletics over a month ago. A portion of the plan outlines the University's goals for continuing to grow athletics through new facility construction.

"We will use the Hardin Foundation gift to completely redesign and rebuild the Memphis track located at the Park Avenue Campus," Bowen stated. "We will enlarge the footprint of the current facility, enclose the grandstands and place a full-scale soccer field in the center of the track. Both men and women's track and men's and women's soccer will reap the benefits of this project."

"This gift will allow us to enter into the second phase of construction at the Women's Softball Stadium," Bowen continued. "A new clubhouse will be added, which will house locker rooms, coaches' offices, meeting and recruiting rooms, indoor pitching and batting areas, as well as an athletic training room, equipment room and laundry room."

The University of Memphis is currently in the second phase of construction on the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, which serves as the home of women's basketball and volleyball. The new portion of the project will add a state-of-the-art weight room, an indoor, four-lane training track, an elevated cardio platform, a player lounge and an enlarged training room with Grimm Tubs--hydroponic pools for injury rehabilitation.

"All of these projects are critical to the university as we enter the BIG EAST Conference in July of 2013," Bowen said. "This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, we want to make absolutely certain that the University of Memphis remains a beacon for gender equity in women's athletics".

In addition to the gift designated for athletics, the Hardin Trust also made a donation of $1 million to the University of Memphis Honors Program and $100,000 to the School of Public Health, bringing the gift total to $3.7 million.

The Helen and Jabie Hardin Trust has been a major benefactor of the University of Memphis for many years. Shortly before her death in 2008, Helen Hardin gave $2 million to the University for the benefit of honors students. That gift helped the university exceed its goal of increasing its honors enrollment to more than 10 percent of the undergraduate student body and the university named the program the Helen Hardin Honors Program. Established in 1975, the Honors program enrolled 1,848 students this fall. It is the largest Honors program in Tennessee. Jabie and Helen Hardin were the founders of wholesale food distributor Hardin-Sysco. In 1995, the University of Memphis bestowed its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, upon the Hardins, and in 1997 they were inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs.

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