UM’s stretch-drive efforts to finance an indoor football practice facility have been given a boost by a former Hurricanes star linebacker.
Jon Beason told The Miami Herald on Thursday that he’s donating $250,000 toward the project.
“I always thought about giving back to the school,” Beason said by phone.
“When [Mark] Richt was named the new head coach, I said I believe in this guy. I went through the recruiting process with him when he was at Georgia, and they were the first school to offer me. I saw [Richt] at a basketball game recently and he was very grateful. I bought a new home four or five minutes from campus. A lot of this [success in life] was made possible from the opportunity I got at the university.”
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Beason’s gift raises UM’s contributions to $31 million, with an additional $3 million needed to build a facility that will take 14 to 18 months to complete.
UM won’t break ground until all of the $34 million is raised. Hurricanes officials hope the facility will be open by August 2018.
“We want to move this project forward as soon as possible and put shovels in the ground,” said Jesse Marks, UM’s senior associate athletic director for development. “We’re in our final stretch. Anybody who has been on the fence or might not have been in position [previously]: now is the time. We’re really trying to cast a wide net to close this out.”
Marks said some donors will have their names placed on various parts of the building, including coaches’ offices.
The Soffer family previously committed $14 million to the facility, which will be named the Carol Soffer football indoor practice facility.
Richt is donating $1 million.
Marks said there have been eight gifts of over $1 million and 22 gifts topping $100,000 and that former football players contributed more than $600,000.
“The indoor facility has been talked about for years,” Beason said. “We miss a lot of practice time. The weather is hot, which is extremely dangerous.”
Marks said people interested in donating should go to hurricanesfootballfacility.com for more information.
Richt has said the facility is essential because practice has been disrupted repeatedly by rain and lightning in recent years.
Beason had 187 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one interceptions in four years at UM (2003-2006) but didn’t play much until his junior year.
He was a three-time Pro Bowler during a nine-year NFL career for the Carolina Panthers (who drafted him 25th overall in 2007) and the New York Giants. He last played in 2015 and retired last February.
Beason is now an analyst for CBSsports.com.
“Jon’s commitment is exemplary,” Marks said. “He embodies what a professional and former student athlete really is at UM. We thank him for being a leader and stepping up and making a difference for our program.”
WQAM KEEPS GAMES
WQAM-560 announced it has signed a multiyear deal to retain UM radio rights, but with a twist: Baseball games no longer will be broadcast by the station beginning in 2018.
Asked if UM plans to find another station to carry baseball beyond campus station WVUM-90.5 FM, athletic director Blake James said: “We will continue to evaluate what is best for our program. I believe we will have all of our games broadcast on ESPN3 again this year and will continue to make decisions that best position our program.”
According to a source, WQAM believed there wasn’t enough of an audience for baseball to continue airing the games after this season.
WQAM will carry all football and men’s basketball games, but men’s basketball games that conflict with Miami Dolphins or Florida Panthers games will move to another station.
Joe Zagacki will remain voice of the Hurricanes; he has distinguished himself over the years with sharp, detailed play-by-play and also has shown a knack for anticipating play calls, include a trick play by Pittsburgh in a football game last season.
Don Bailey Jr. will remain the analyst on football. Bailey, who played with Richt at UM, does a good job citing individual offensive and defensive linemen who are partly responsible for a play working or failing.
790 The Ticket also had expressed some interest in UM rights, but UM ultimately decided to remain on the station that has carried its games since 1999.
Please click here for some on-field UM football notes.