UK Athletics Receives Record Gift

Eastern Kentucky native pledges $6 million to name basketball practice facility

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky Athletics has received the largest private gift in its history, a $6 million pledge to name the school's new basketball practice facility. Joe Craft, an eastern Kentucky native who currently resides in Tulsa, Okla., originally made a $3 million dollar pledge in the summer of 2005. After a recent tour of the facility, Craft doubled his gift to the $6 million being requested for naming rights.

A native of Hazard, Craft, 55, received both an undergraduate degree in accounting (1972) and a law degree (1976) from UK. He is president and chief executive officer of Alliance Resource Partners, L.P., a diversified coal producer and marketer.

"I'm from Kentucky, so I understand that the University of Kentucky athletic program means a great deal to the people of the state," Craft said. "Athletics plays a big part in the development of young people, and I believe strongly in the work currently being done by the coaches, staff and student-athletes at UK."

"We are grateful for Mr. Craft's gift," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. "It is only through the generosity of those who love the Kentucky Wildcats that our coaches and student-athletes have the resources to achieve high levels of success and bring pride to the Commonwealth. Joe Craft is one of the many successful UK graduates who have contributed back to their alma mater in a meaningful way."

"The passion and commitment of our loyal alumni continue to amaze me," University President Dr. Lee T. Todd said. "Joe Craft boldly leads by example in pushing our university to excellence. He has been a significant contributor to academic programs, our capital campaign and athletics. This major gift will help ensure Kentucky basketball remains one of the premier programs in the country."

Craft's pledge brings the total raised for the $30-million project to $29.2 million. The 100,000-square foot practice facility, which is currently under construction and scheduled for completion at the end of this year, is an expansion off the north side of Memorial Coliseum. The state-of-the-art facility will house practice courts; locker, meeting, training and weight rooms; and coaches' offices for men's and women's basketball, in addition to administrative and ticket offices.

The next largest gift UK Athletics has previously received was $2.775 million, given anonymously towards the basketball practice facility. One other donor has reached the $2 million mark – the Nutter Family of Beaver Creek, Ohio, which has given $2.5 million towards football facilities.

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