UConn Gets $4.5 Million Gift

The dream of a basketball practice facility that can be shared by both the men's and women's programs at the University of Connecticut has moved one step closer to reality.

That step comes in the form of a $4.5 million pledge from Peter J. and Pamela H. Werth of Woodbridge, Conn. Their donation means UConn is about halfway to its goal of $30 million necessary for the facility. And it ranks as the largest single private gift to UConn athletics. Robert G. Burton gave $2.5 million toward the construction of UConn's football facility.

Practice facilities for basketball have become a common part of the Division I structure throughout the NCAA. Without such a facility, the basketball programs go through a complicate scheduling process at Gampel Pavilion, a facility they share with the volleyball program and other events.

Planning and construction of a facility became a major point of debate in recent years and created a major riff between men's coach Jim Calhoun and former athletic director Jeff Hathaway. That climate has changed, especially under the new power structure of UConn president Susan Herbst and interim AD Paul Pendergast.

Herbst and Pendergast support the idea of a basketball facility. In August, when Pendergast returned to UConn as interim AD, he revealed his enthusiasm for a facility.

"There's at least 40 others in the NCAA that have facilities that we should have here," Pendergast said. "I'd like to put a hole in the ground today, but not just have it be a hole in the ground."

There's still a long way to go, but at least UConn is moving in the right direction.

Here's the press release from UConn, issued Thursday:

STORRS, Conn. - Peter J. and Pamela H. Werth of Woodbridge, Conn., have made a $4.5 million pledge toward the construction of a basketball practice facility on the University of Connecticut campus. The commitment from the Werths is the largest single private gift ever to Athletics at the University.

"The entire University of Connecticut community is grateful to the Werth family for the leadership role they are taking with this generous commitment towards the building of our new men's and women's basketball facility," says UConn President Susan Herbst. "This historic gift will help us maintain the excellence that has long been synonymous with our University and its outstanding athletic programs."

Mr. Werth is the founder and CEO of Chemwerth Inc., a full service generic drug development and supply company based in Connecticut. Established in 1982, Chemwerth provides high quality active pharmaceutical ingredients to regulated markets worldwide. Chemwerth has operations in China and India.

"We are proud to make this commitment to UConn and its outstanding basketball programs," says Peter and Pam Werth. "UConn Basketball is part of the fabric of our state, and we know that this facility will help the men's and women's teams be successful for years to come. We hope that other UConn fans, who derive the same joy from the Huskies as we do, will support this project so that construction can begin as soon as possible."

The Werths are avid Husky fans and season ticket holders for men's and women's basketball, and football. They have been active UConn Athletics donors since 2003, supporting overall program enhancement in the Division of Athletics. Their strong connection to the University began with their children - Peter III, Debbie and Jackie - all of whom attended UConn.

"Peter and Pam have a great passion for UConn Athletics and our student-athletes," says Interim Director of Athletics Paul Pendergast. "This wonderful gift demonstrates their dedication to enhancing the academic and athletic experience of the young men and women who wear the Husky uniform."

The UConn Basketball Development Center will be a 70,000 square foot facility to be located on the current Memorial Stadium site, adjacent to Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. It will feature dedicated practice gyms for the two basketball programs, along with locker rooms, coaches' offices and areas for academic support, video analysis, sports medicine and strength training.

The facility is being designed by Populous, the former HOK Sport, which designed The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center.

With this pledge from the Werths, nearly half of the approximately $30 million project cost has now been committed, all through private sources.

"On behalf of everyone associated with our women's basketball program at UConn - past, present and future - we are grateful to Peter and Pam for their generosity," says Head Women's Basketball coach Geon Auriemma. "The Werths know what it takes to be successful, and they know that this facility will allow our team to practice, train and study in a setting that promotes achievement."

"It takes great players to win, and the Werths are great players," says Head Men's Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun. "Through this commitment, they have shown their desire to be leaders and help young people have a very special college experience in Storrs. The Werths are helping us take a very important step toward the building of this much-needed facility."

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