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June 16, 1997

UVa Athletics Receives Largest Gift in University History

Carl Smith Gives $25 Million for Scott Stadium Expansion

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. -- A University of Virginia alumnus, former member of the Board of Visitors, and longtime supporter of the University has pledged $25 million -- the largest single monetary gift in the school's history -- to the University's athletics department.

The gift from Carl W. Smith, founder of the Charlottesville-based AMVEST Corp., was announced today at a joint meeting of the Board of Visitors and the committee that oversees the $750 million Campaign for the University of Virginia. At the same meeting, the board passed a resolution to go forward with a plan to raise $50 million to expand and enhance Scott Stadium. As a result of that action, the bulk of Smith's unrestricted gift -- $23 million -- would be used for the proposed 16,000-seat addition, which will bring the stadium capacity to 60,000. The board designated the remaining $2 million for construction of the first football stadium to be built at the University's Clinch Valley College in Southwest Virginia. In effect, Smith's commitment, a matching grant, will cover half the cost of each stadium project. This gift also is the largest in Clinch Valley's history.

"Carl Smith has made a magnificent gift," said University President John T. Casteen III. "His generosity affords the University a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance athletics facilities and programs. This gift celebrates Carl's deep and long devotion to U.Va. athletics that started some 50 years ago when Carl came to Charlottesville from Wise County as a scholarship football player." Smith was a lineman during the late 1940s and early '50s -- one of U.Va.'s great football eras -- under noted coach Art Guepe.

Carl and his wife, Hunter J. Smith, have supported many University endeavors over the years. Previous gifts have been to the schools of architecture, law, medicine, and business, the Children's Medical Center, and the Jefferson Scholars Program, although Carl Smith's primary interest has always remained U.Va. athletics. "Moving athletics into the top tier of programs in the country has been part of a long-term strategy at the University, and we're pleased to be able to help accelerate that process," Smith said.

"I think the University is going about this in the right way. Many schools put sports first as they aim for national standings in athletics. Here, academic programs have consistently been ranked among the best in the country. Our sports programs are now following their lead. The University's goals include achieving excellence in a broad spectrum of sports, and that includes team sports as well as club sports and intramurals. I hope this will encourage others to step forward to support all athletics programs at U.Va."

"Carl Smith has great affection for the entire University, which is reflected in this gift," said Joshua P. Darden, campaign chairman, who got to know Smith when their tenures on the Board of Visitors overlapped. "It is not for football alone, but is meant to enhance student life by helping to generate resources for all sports and recreational activities at the University. We are overwhelmed by his generosity."

The athletics department's campaign goals, some of which have already been met, include projects ranging from $10 million for an athletic scholarship endowment and $1.5 million for a new grass surface in Scott Stadium to $500,000 to light Klockner Stadium, home of the University's soccer and lacrosse teams. Other University projects during the past year have included the opening of three new athletic facilities to benefit the University community. They include the state-of-the-art Aquatic and Fitness Center, the Sheridan G. Snyder Tennis Center, and The Park, a recreation and intramural facility on North Grounds that is also home to the Cavalier softball team.

Following Smith's graduation from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1951, he served in the Army and worked as an investment banker. In 1961, he founded AMVEST Corp., an international company specializing in coal mining, natural gas production, trading, and finance. Smith is currently a director of the National Mining Association, as well as a director of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. He served on the University's Board of Visitors from 1980 to 1988, chaired its Finance Committee, and was a two-term trustee of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration Foundation. He also was chairman of the Jeffersonian Restoration Advisory Board, which oversaw efforts to preserve the University's historic buildings.

Throughout his career, Smith has remained close to the University, as well as to his roots in Wise, VA. Wise was home to his late grandfather, a prominent lawyer for whom Smith and his family endowed the University's O.M. Vicars Professorship in Law in 1982. Wise is also home to Clinch Valley College, founded in 1954 as a two-year institution to serve Southwest Virginia. Since that time it has grown into a broad-based four-year liberal arts college. Over the past five years, Smith has made a number of gifts to help support that school's fledgling football program, and in 1994, Clinch Valley honored him with a new student award in his name. The Carl W. Smith Award for Excellence is given each year to a senior football player who has demonstrated excellence in personal integrity, citizenship, academics, and athletics, and who serves as a role model for the youth of Southwest Virginia.

The importance of the well-rounded student is something Vicars ingrained in his grandson. "My grandfather wanted to educate everyone he knew, family and otherwise, because education was that important to him," Smith said. "The first time he saw a picture of me in a newspaper I was in a football uniform, and his comment was, 'Well, it looks like Carl is educating his feet instead of his head.'" Smith took those words to heart, and as a student of economics at U.Va., he learned quickly the need to balance carefully his time between a quiet corner of Alderman Library and the playing field in Scott Stadium. That decision has served him well.

Scott Stadium Expansion Plans

  • Capacity will be increased from 44,000 to 60,000 spectators.
  • The Hill, always a popular vantage for students, will be maintained.
  • The project will include a plaza between the stadium and the Aquatic & Fitness Center and other walkways to improve pedestrian flow throughout the stadium.
  • Estimated cost of the two-year construction project is between $45 >million and $50 million.
  • Additional parking will be provided.
  • Improved concession areas and rest rooms will alleviate long lines.
  • A new Bryant Hall will double the locker room and support space now available.
  • Architect for the preliminary planning of the project was Heery International Inc. of Atlanta. The firm's previous projects include the Georgia Dome and stadiums at the universities of Texas, Alabama and Georgia.

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