UK receives large donations for new football practice facility

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 2, 2014 

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Head Coach Mark Stoops, middle, and offensive line coach John Schlarman, left, walked around as the players stretched before the University of Kentucky football team practiced at the E. J. Nutter Training Facility on the UK campus in Lexington, Ky., Monday August 11, 2014. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

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Athletics gifts of nearly $4 million dollars will cross the table at the University of Kentucky's Board of Trustees meeting this week, with much of it earmarked to pay for the new football practice facility and practice fields.

Chris Sullivan, a founder of OSU Restaurant Partners and Outback Steakhouse, has pledged the largest gift of $1 million to go specifically toward the new facility.

Sullivan, who received a business degree from UK in 1972, has committed $1 million, with half of that coming this year and the other half to be received by 2015, according to the board's agenda.

Another gift of more than $900,000 will come from Roger Nicholson, a UK College of Law graduate who works in the coal and natural resources industries.

Another coal-related donor, M. Lynn Parrish of Lexington, has pledged $800,000 to go toward UK Athletics capital projects.

The UK graduate has an extensive career in the coal industry and is president of the Marwood Land Company, Inc., in Pikeville. He formerly was president of Coal-Mac Incorporated in Holden, W.Va., and Knott-Floyd Land Company in Eastern Kentucky. Parrish's wife, Jessica, also has a degree from Kentucky.

The board also will approve the $1 million pledge from women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell and his wife, Jenna, to be paid in 10 installments starting this year. The coach has said he'd like to see the money go toward capital projects as well.

The final schematic designs of the $45 million practice facility have not been finalized, but they are expected to be made public in the fall.

The practice facility and training facility will be attached to the backside of the Nutter Indoor Training Facility. Officials have said it will be nearly 100,000 square feet of space designated for the football team's use.

The practice facility, expected to open in 2016, "will give us an opportunity to do some really, really cool, unique things, tying this whole facility and one– stop shop, our players in an area where they can get everything they need for the University of Kentucky football in one area," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in August.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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