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Vanderbilt Announces Historic $300M Athletics Fund

Paul Steinbach

Vanderbilt University announced Tuesday that it is pursuing $300 million to invest in athletics and that it is already two-thirds of the way to that goal.

According to the university's website, the historic campaign began with a quiet phase in the fall, when $200 million was identified — $100 million from the university, and another $100 million from private donors, including a lead $10 million gift from trustee John Ingram, a long-time supporter of Vandy athletics.

The ambitious fundraising vehicle, dubbed The Vandy United fund, will invest $300 million in Vanderbilt’s student-athletes and athletics programs through major facilities and operational enhancements, the website says.

“As the largest undertaking of its kind in Vanderbilt Athletics’ history, the Vandy United Fund represents a bold step for Vanderbilt athletics and the promise of an even brighter future,” chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “This is our moment to turn the page, together, and start a new chapter for Vanderbilt athletics, for our student-athletes and for our many supporters. This is our opportunity to make good on the promise and potential of Vanderbilt athletics by investing in our student-athletes and providing a better fan experience, today and in the future, and creating an environment where our student-athletes can thrive and compete to win, now and for decades to come.”

The fund will address fan needs by transforming key facilities, offering improved fan amenities, and broadening opportunities for community engagement, while "making Vanderbilt home to the best student-athlete experience in college sports," according to the announcement. Improvements will include separate football and basketball operations centers, a sports performance center, an indoor football practice facility, and stadium hospitality and premium seating upgrades.

Vanderbilt will unveil further details and renderings of the first phase of facility projects this summer, with construction on the football and basketball operations centers expected to begin after the conclusion of football season.

“Each of these projects is a significant undertaking in its own right," said Candice Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. "Taken together, they catapult Vanderbilt’s ability to enhance success on and off the field for all of our student-athletes."

"For decades, Vanderbilt has been the proverbial punching bag of the Southeastern Conference for its poor athletic facilities and the clear favoritism the university has for academics over athletics," wrote Michael Gallagher for Nashville Post, an online news service. "Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Athletic Director Candice Lee heard those criticisms, and now, the university is doing something about it with the creation of the Vandy United Fund."

“Sometimes, we have felt like at Vanderbilt, we’re limping along,” Lee said, as reported by the Post. “It’s important that we think of ourselves as who we are — a charter member of the SEC in the best city in the country. We’ve got to act like it.”

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