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$62 million gift to university athletics announced by Desiree Reed-Francois
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$62 million gift to university athletics announced by Desiree Reed-Francois

The University of Missouri’s athletics department has received a record-breaking $62 million donation.

The gift is more than double the previous largest contribution to Mizzou athletics in 2012.

The donor earmarked $50 million for MU’s planned renovation of Memorial Stadium’s north concourse and $12 million for the school’s Tiger Fund, which directly benefits athletes.

The donation is worth more than the athletics department’s fundraising efforts combined in the first two fiscal years under director Desiree Reed-Francois.

Mizzou brought in roughly $57.6 million worth of cash donations in the fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

“This extraordinary commitment is a major step toward fulfilling our vision to transform Memorial Stadium and create the best college football game-day atmosphere in the country,” Reed-Francois said in a statement.

“Our pivotal stadium project is not possible without our donor, whose passion for Mizzou’s success, coupled with humility, faith and generosity, are unparalleled. Mizzou Football fans displayed their passion last season with five consecutive home sellouts, and our donor’s momentous contribution will not only enhance those magical experiences at Memorial Stadium but will greatly impact our student-athletes across every sport as they pursue their dreams as Tigers.”

Mizzou’s previous record donation came in 2012, days before the school officially migrated to the Southeastern Conference, when the Kansas City Sports Trust sent in $30 million for a facilities master plan that included expanding Memorial Stadium’s east stands, adjusting premium seating on the west side and shifting the north concourse’s iconic Rock M.

The latter will come up again with the latest eight-figure donation. A new videoboard and upgraded sound system were already planned for the 2024 football season, but the athletics department is moving forward with bigger plans.

In December, the athletics department hired the Kansas City-based DLR Group to serve as the architect for those renovations. The Board of Curators signed off on $400,000 worth of the firm’s pre-design services to generate a more detailed project proposal ahead of an April 18 meeting.

“We are enthused about working with DLR and getting started,” Reed-Francois previously told the board. “We will present in April our finance plan, as well as our full report. But I would say that this opportunity is a great one to continue our momentum. It’s great for recruiting. We always want our fans, every year, to be able to experience an enhanced fan day. With this new improvement, they’ll be able to do that.”

The announced donation is likely to be a significant tenet of that financial plan. While comparing the north concourse renovations to the south end zone facility construction that wrapped up in 2019 may not be weighing apples against apples, the south end zone project cost $98 million.

The north concourse renovations are projected to be completed ahead of the 2026 football season.

The $12 million geared toward the Tiger Fund will support one of Mizzou Athletics’ newest initiatives. That fund allows donors to designate contributions for sub-accounts that go toward specific teams, or go toward a general pool of money used on travel, equipment, marketing and mental health support for the school’s athletes.

In total, the $62 million contribution represents roughly 44 percent of Mizzou Athletics’ revenue from the 2023 fiscal year, which ended in June and saw the department stay in the black by a single dollar.

That fiscal year did not include a remarkable 2023 football season that ended with the Tigers ranked inside the Top 10 after a Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State.

Five consecutive football sellouts, increased buzz around Mizzou athletics and the record donation are likely to keep the department in the black once again. MU has spent and generated record amounts in the last two fiscal years.

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