Marquette New Athletic Facility To Be Named In Honor Of Al McGuire

Oct. 16, 2000

MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University's new athletic facility will be named for Al McGuire, the legendary coach who led the men's basketball team to an NCAA championship, an NIT title and 295 victories in 13 seasons. The university also announced today a $2 million challenge gift from long-time supporters James H. and Virginia Wheeler toward the construction of the new facility, bringing the total raised so far to $9 million.

Details of the new facility remain to be worked out, including where it will be located and the final cost. At a minimum, it will provide state-of-the-art practice facilities for men's and women's basketball, including strength and conditioning and sports medicine facilities, an academic center for student athletes, and a Marquette athletics hall of fame. It may include other sports such as volleyball as well.

"Coach McGuire is a man who cherishes his privacy and has not the slightest interest in building monuments to himself," said the Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., Marquette's president. "Allowing us to name this facility for him, which is certainly no less than his achievements as a coach and a human being deserve, is a true act of generosity on his part, for which I thank him."

"I am very honored that the university asked me to do this," McGuire said. "I feel like this is a way for me to give something back to Marquette and make a contribution to the future of Marquette athletics, and I look forward to taking the first shot."

The Wheeler donation is the second major gift announced for the project in little more than six weeks. In late August, an anonymous donor pledged up to $7 million toward the new facility. Both are challenge gifts. The university must raise $9 million from other donors to match these gifts dollar-for-dollar.

Jim Wheeler attended Marquette with a partial scholarship in track before being appointed to the U.S.Naval Academy. He received his commission in 1944. He and his wife, Ginny, founded Essential Industries Inc., a manufacturer of industrial soaps and detergents, in Merton, Wis. He is chairman of the board.

The Wheelers helped organize the Blue & Gold Fund, Marquette's annual fund-raising program for scholarships for intercollegiate athletics, in 1994, and served on its advisory board. In 1996, they gave $1 million to establish a scholarship fund for student-athletes in varsity sports other than men's and women's basketball. That gift, made in honor of Marquette's former president, the Rev. Albert J. DiUlio, S.J., was the largest single gift for athletic scholarships in Marquette's history. Ginny Wheeler is a member of the Marquette University Women's Council. Two of their four children are Marquette graduates.

"I am exceedingly grateful to Jim and Ginny for this splendid gift," said Father Wild. "It speaks volumes for their continued strong support of our athletic program's commitment to excellence in academics, athletics and leadership."

The athletic facility is one of the priority projects in the university's comprehensive fund-raising campaign, now entering its third year. The other priorities are the Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Library, a new facility for the School of Dentistry, scholarship and academic program endowment, and, the campus identity and beautification project. The university is actively engaged in fund-raising for all these priorities but an overall dollar goal for the campaign, which will run seven years, has not yet been announced.

Marquette University's ranking by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's "best college values" for four consecutive years attests to the quality of the university's educational tradition. The university's mission encompasses the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others.

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