The University of Miami indoor football practice facility project just got a nice boost from the man closest to the Miami Hurricanes.
Nice, as in $1 million.
UM football coach Mark Richt told a group of about 50 “very supportive individuals’’ at a private dinner after UM’s #Building Champions Spring Tour in Chicago last Thursday that he was donating $1 million toward the facility, a source at the private dinner told the Miami Herald.
UM athletic director Blake James confirmed that Richt is giving a donation but wouldn’t divulge details.
“I know Mark is going to make a gift to the project,’’ James told the Herald on Wednesday. “When we finalize it we’ll make an announcement.”
The donation was first reported by Canesport.com.
James wouldn’t give a timetable for breaking ground or announcing a major leadership donation by someone who would get his or her name on the building.
“There’s a lot of energy and excitement about the project,’’ James said, “but until we do get the gift there isn’t anything to announce. We don’t put timetables on gifts.’’
When Richt mentioned the donation at the dinner, the guests were apparently thrilled.
“You can imagine the reaction,’’ the source said. “Everyone was extremely impressed. Everyone clapped. People hollered. It was impressive.’’
The source said Richt “spoke to the dinner crowd about his commitment to the program, about his commitment to those young men and the major needs of the program, including the indoor facility.’’
The #BuildingChampions Spring Tour, separate from the dinner, was at the Knickerbocker Hotel.
Richt, in his first year at Miami, makes more than $4 million, though UM is a private school and does not disclose his contract details.
Multiple sources familiar with the indoor facility plans previously told the Herald that coaches have been informing prospective recruits about the facility and that renderings of the project, which has yet to break ground and even officially be announced by UM, have been made available to current players by Richt.
The indoor practice facility, which James told the Herald has “been No. 1 on my list for a year and a half,’’ will be large enough to enclose a regulation-size football field.
It will include a weight room and coaches’ offices and is expected to extend from the current weight room housed in the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence near the outdoor practice fields. Initial costs will be between $20 and $30 million.
UM is the only Atlantic Coast Conference school without an indoor facility and one of the only major programs in the country not to have one.
James told the Herald last month that the biggest safety concern is lightning, which sometimes strikes repeatedly in Miami’s tropical climate.
Every time UM’s lightning alarm goes off, the players are required to go inside for at least 30 minutes.
“It’s not temperatures that we’re looking to get out of,’’ James said. “And obviously you have to play in the rain. For us, it’s getting out of the lightning.”