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January 29, 2013

Upgrades continue with major donation

The University of Missouri announced its third multi-million dollar private donation in the last eight months on Tuesday morning. Mizzou announced an $8.3 million dollar gift from the Walsworth family, much of which is earmarked to help build facilities for the Mizzou golf programs.

"This tremendous gift will support athletic facility improvements and expansion," Chancellor Brady Deaton said. "The portion of the gift designated for the golf facilities at Old Hawthorne will have an enormous impact on our ability to recruit and retain tremendous athletes."

Included in the plans are new clubhouses for the Mizzou men's and women's golf teams, team locker rooms, indoor heated hitting bays, swing instruction technology and coaches' offices. Ground should be broken soon and all of the upgrades at Old Hawthorne are scheduled to be complete by September.

Don and Audrey Walsworth have been supporters of Mizzou athletics for decades. Don is a 1957 graduate of Mizzou and served a stint as the Chairman of the Board of Curators.

"We're so happy to make this gift," Walsworth said. "One of the reasons for this gift is that we think the coaches and the staff have to have the proper facilities to compete in the SEC and compete for national titles.

"We want to elevate our entire athletic program to the point where they're competing at a national level."

Don Walsworth's son and cousin were both golfers at Mizzou.

"It's truly unbelievable, the building coming up. The team's been talking about it for four years and it's finally gonna happen. The things it's gonna do for this University's golf team is truly remarkable," Tigers golfer Jace Long said. "It truly puts us on a level playing field with the rest of the Southeastern Conference."

"I can't emphasize enough how much this means for our golf program," said Mark Leroux, men's golf coach. "The new facility will be an integral part of training our student-athletes and helping them improve their skills, but it also will greatly benefit our recruiting process as well. With this facility in place, it's going to be a tremendous boost to both the men's and women's programs here at Mizzou."

Last June, Missouri received a $30 million donation from the Kansas City Sports Trust. In December, an anonymous gift of $6.4 million was given to Mizzou. Today's announcement made the total of the three donations $44.7 million as Mizzou continues to raise funds toward a $200 million renovation project across all sports facilities.

Deaton stated that the donation would assist in facility improvements across the board, including a facelift to Memorial Stadium that is already underway. Alden provided an update on the progress of those renovations as well on Tuesday.

"On the West tower, they're already inside of there and they're gutting it. They're in there doing the demolition work. We're confident that that will be completed by August of 2013. On the East tower, we should be bidding that project out in the next couple of weeks, then it will be out for probably like a month. Our hope is that we can break ground on the East tower in the spring of 2013. What that'll mean is that all of us will see steel and things like that going up in 2013," Alden said. "Our hope is that we can have that completed by the 2014 football season. Then the North concourse, that's where we're moving the Rock M closer and we're doing some cosmetic work down in the base, that package will be bid out in a week and that project will be completed in August of 2013."

Tennis and baseball facilities are also included in the current project and discussions are ongoing at Mizzou about plans to upgrade softball facilities.

"The baseball project will be bid out pretty soon," Alden said. "As we look at trying to improve softball, as it sits right now, the question is do you just improve it towards what you've got right now or, frankly, do you take a look at building a brand new softball complex? That's where we put it on hold just for a little bit so we can kind of analyze it. We'll make a decision on that probably in the next three to four months. Do you want to invest this in the current facility or do you want to just go a complete different direction and build a brand new one? And we're putting scenarios together for both of those."

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