University of Miami

UM women’s basketball team gets seven-figure donation — largest in program history

University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier (shown celebrating with players after an NCAA Tournament bid last year), celebrated again on Monday Feb. 11, 2019, after receiving the largest donation in program history -- a seven-figure endowed scholarship.
University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier (shown celebrating with players after an NCAA Tournament bid last year), celebrated again on Monday Feb. 11, 2019, after receiving the largest donation in program history -- a seven-figure endowed scholarship. sballestas@miamiherald.com

All the hard work and victories are paying off for University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier and her team.

On Monday morning, the school announced the largest donation in UM women’s basketball program history. Longtime super-fan BJ Abolt pledged a seven-figure estate gift to establish a women’s basketball scholarship endowment named after Meier at Abolt’s request. It will be the first fully-endowed women’s athletics scholarship at Miami and will pay for a full scholarship for a member of the team.

The announcement capped an exciting week for the 20th-ranked Hurricanes, who have quietly made their way into the national conversation this season heading into Sunday’s nationally-televised road game at No. 2 Louisville (3 p.m., ESPN2).

Miami pulled off a thrilling upset of No. 4 defending national champion Notre Dame at home last Thursday night and followed that up with a convincing road win at Pittsburgh. The Canes are 21-5 overall and 9-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Center Beatrice Mompremier was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two victories, and was also one of 30 players nationwide named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason team.

“Katie Meier is the most dynamic person I have ever met,” Abolt said. “It is a privilege to be a part of a young woman’s scholastic and athletic dreams, and an honor to be associated with Coach Meier’s program.”

A member of the Golden Cane Society for over two decades, Abolt is a leadership donor to the Building Women’s Champions Campaign. The Boswell, Ind., native moved to South Florida in 1963 and has been a longtime supporter and presence at UM women’s sporting events.

Abolt and her longtime friend, Willie Mae Lamar, are fixtures at every women’s basketball home game, driving six hours round-trip from their LaBelle, Fla., home. They also travel around the country to follow the team on the road during the regular season and post-season.

“I’m honored, humbled and stunned by this gift,” Meier said. “Our program’s relationship with BJ is very personal and a gift like this feels like family. We could not feel more loved, supported and grateful. The impact of this gift will enhance our women’s basketball program into perpetuity.”

In Meier’s 14 seasons at UM, she has compiled a 273-168 record and led the team to its first ACC regular season title. Miami has reached the postseason the past nine years, making the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight.

Meier was the USA Basketball National Coach of the Year in 2013, as well as both the Associated Press National Coach of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year in 2010-11.

“This is a truly transformational gift for our women’s basketball program that will positively impact the lives of so many young women for years to come,” Director of Athletics Blake James said. “We are extremely grateful to BJ for her generosity and support. It is because of people like BJ that we are able to provide our student-athletes with such exceptional experiences in our quest to build champions at The U.”

Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and has been the University of Miami basketball beat writer for 20 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.


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