Later this year, the University of Maryland plans to open its stellar new facility at Cole Field House. And though it won’t bear the name of Kevin Plank, the founder and executive chairman of Under Armour and 1996 Smith alumnus was instrumental in making it happen.
“The Cole Field House project would not have been possible without the support of donors – notably a generous leadership gift from Kevin Plank, the founder and executive chairman of Under Armour,” UMD President Darryll Pines said Thursday, in a statement that coincided with his investiture as president.
The new project, Pines said, has “transformed a beloved basketball arena into a first-of-its-kind facility that will ultimately bring together research, science, athletics and entrepreneurship under the same roof.”
“A signature part of this new facility is a football performance center. But this new addition will do more than enhance the performance of the next generation of student-athletes, it will speak to our commitment to our history, social justice and providing opportunity for all,” he said.
With approval from the Board of Regents, the football performance center will be named “in honor of two pioneering figures who officially broke the color barrier in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in the sports of basketball and football,” Pines said.
The first, Billy Jones, was the first African American to play basketball in the ACC, debuting at the University of Maryland in 1965, where he played in historic Cole Field House. The second, Darryl Hill, was the first African American to play football in the ACC, starting with a truly historic season at Maryland in 1963.
“The determination, courage and strength of these two individuals helped pave the way for thousands of Black student-athletes today,” Pines said.
But it was Plank’s support of the project that made this honorific naming possible, Pines said. “In fact, it was his idea to forego the opportunity to put his own name on this facility to honor these two trailblazers. That kind of visionary leadership and selflessness demonstrates Mr. Plank’s deep commitment not just to his alma mater, but to social justice.”
You can read more about the journeys of Billy Jones and Darryl Hill here.
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The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.