Cleveland Couple Pledges $5 Million to UT

KNOXVILLE — A $5 million gift from a Bradley County couple will help double the size of the University of Tennessee-s indoor football practice facility, UT President J. Wade Gilley said Friday.

Toby and Brenda McKenzie of Cleveland are giving $4 million toward the $8 to $10 million expansion of the Vols- Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex on Lake Loudoun Boulevard. The McKenzies also pledged an additional $1 million to UT scholarship and academic programs, Gilley said.

The practice field will be a full 120 yards and administrative office space will be added, Athletics Director Doug Dickey said. A Lindsey Nelson Memorial Room honoring the sports broadcaster and UT graduate will be included in the expansion, along with an All-Sports Hall of Fame area.

The couple recently gave $2.1 million to UT-Chattanooga to retire the debt on the school-s arena. Their total gifts and pledges to UT are nearly $8.5 million, Gilley said.

Half of the $1 million for academics will go to the Toby and Brenda McKenzie Endowment for recruiting top faculty to UT, Gilley said. The other $500,000 will be split between the Lilly Frank Fitzgerald Scholarship program and the UT Alliance of Women in Philanthropy, of which Brenda McKenzie is a founding member.

“This is a good example of athletics benefiting the academic side of the university,” Gilley said. “In addition to this wonderful gift to athletics, students and faculty will benefit from the McKenzies- generosity.”

The Fitzgerald scholarships honor Toby McKenzie-s high school English teacher.

The couple also supports the McKenzie Scholarship Program and the Joe and Rachel DeCosimo Scholarships at UTC and a business administration professorship in Knoxville.

Dickey said he hopes construction can begin on the Neyland-Thompson facility in 2001.