Donors support UNC student-athletes

Posted April 8, 2011 11:32 a.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2011 11:40 a.m. EDT

— Two recent donations to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will benefit student-athletes at the school.

R. Charles Loudermilk, a 1950 UNC graduate and chairman of Atlanta-based Aaron's Inc., has committed $7.5 million to create the Loudermilk Center for Excellence, which will include a strength and conditioning center for UNC's Olympic sports programs, facilities for men's lacrosse and a visitor's locker room that also could be split up for high school football championships.

The 150,000-square-foot facility is being built on the east side of Kenan Stadium as part of the stadium renovations and is expected to be completed by September, officials said. The center also will include premium seats for football games and offices for the athletics department.

The John William Pope Foundation of Raleigh has committed $3 million to improve the academic support program for student-athletes that the foundation first backed in 1986. The foundation was started by John W. Pope Sr., a 1947 UNC graduate and founder of the Variety Wholesalers Inc. chain of discount stores.

The new 29,000-square-foot John W. Pope Student-Athlete Academic Support Center will be in the Loudermilk Center and include classrooms for teaching and tutoring, advanced computer technology, a writing lab, reading rooms and office space. It also will house the Carolina Leadership Academy, which offers leadership training to Carolina’s student-athletes, coaches and staff and serves as a model for intercollegiate athletics.

“The Loudermilk Center is the heart of the Kenan project and will provide for one of the nation’s top academic support facilities,” Dick Baddour, UNC athletics director, said in a statement. "(The academic support center) is a showcase facility that will benefit student-athletes in every sport and will allow them to continue their collective goal to be productive members of their communities."