Simon Skjodt Donation Continues IU 'Love' AffairPosted: Updated:
Indiana University alumni and Hoosier basketball supporters are still buzzing about the $40 million donation that will fund renovations and prompt a renaming of Assembly Hall. The donation is from IU graduate and Indianapolis Philanthropist Cindy Simon Skjodt. She strongly believes "if you love this university, you should give back to this university." Our partners at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis report it is the largest donation in IU athletic department history. In honor of the donation, the venue will be renamed Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Upgrades to the 1970s-era facility are expected to be complete in 2016.
It is the largest gift in the history of the athletic department.
IU President Michael McRobbie calls it a "historic milestone."
Athletic Director Fred Glass says the donation is part of the "Catching Excellence" campaign, which is a $150 million effort to improve facilities throughout the Bloomington campus.
Simon Skjodt is the campaign's co-chair.
The new name will take effect when renovations are finished.
December 19, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie today announced that IU Athletics has received a $40 million gift - the largest in its history - from IU alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt to provide much needed renovations to Assembly Hall and launch IU Athletics' ambitious and unprecedented $150 million "Catching Excellence: The Campaign for Indiana University Athletics" capital campaign. President McRobbie also announced that in honor of the landmark gift made by Catching Excellence co-chair Cindy Simon Skjodt and her philanthropic organization, the Samerian Foundation, IU will rename Assembly Hall the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
"The Simon Family name has long been synonymous with transformative philanthropy, and this extraordinary gift from Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family will allow IU to preserve and improve one of the great venues in college athletics for the next generation of Hoosier basketball fans," McRobbie said. "We are deeply indebted to Cindy Simon Skjodt and the entire Simon family for their deep and continued support across the full spectrum of Indiana University's mission."
Cindy Simon Skjodt is a well-known philanthropist and passionate community leader. Cindy and the entire Simon family have been particularly generous to Indiana University, with a $50 million gift to the Indiana University Cancer Center in Indianapolis and the creation of Simon Hall on the Bloomington campus as a center for multidisciplinary science. Cindy recently endowed the Melvin Simon Chair in Philanthropy at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in honor of her late father. Other recent philanthropic gifts by Simon Skjodt have included a $2 million gift to IU Health Methodist Hospital for a new institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a Center for Professional Enrichment and a $2 million gift to endow a chair in the Herron School of Art and Design's Art Therapy Program. Simon Skjodt has also helped to fund overseas study scholarships through the IU College of Arts and Sciences, committed funding to help create the IU Health Riley Hospital for Children Simon Family Tower, and supported along with her siblings the Bess Meshulam Simon Music Library and Recital Center on the Bloomington campus in honor of her late mother.
"I grew up going to Indiana University games and have great memories of watching basketball games with my father," said Cindy Simon Skjodt. "The atmosphere in Assembly Hall is truly unmatched anywhere in college basketball."
"Everyone in our family has enjoyed incredible experiences with Indiana University," added Simon Skjodt. "We feel fortunate for our IU relationships and it is rewarding to give back. We hope others in Hoosier Nation who are able to do so will also give back to help make the Catching Excellence campaign a success."
"This tremendous gift is another example of the extraordinary and ongoing dedication of Cindy and her family to the continued success of all aspects of Indiana University," said IU Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. "Their willingness to breathe new life into this important venue is inspiring and their efforts to lead by example with engagement and service are truly exceptional."
"We are honored and thrilled that Cindy and her family are jump starting the much needed Athletics capital campaign with this historically generous gift," said IU Vice President and Director for Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass. "Not unlike the way her father and uncle saved the Pacers for Indiana by buying the team in 1983, this gift will make it possible in essence to save Assembly Hall and preserve the best home court advantage in college basketball. We are all very grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt."
Funds from the gift will be used for much needed renovations and improvements to the 42-year-old facility. The plan is to maintain the character and experience of the venue while enhancing the facility's functionality so as to preserve the greatest home court advantage in college basketball. The renaming will take affect upon the completion of the renovations and improvements, which is currently anticipated to occur as early as 2016. The multi-year project will not interfere with basketball, commencement or other major activities that take place in the building.
Refurbishments of Assembly Hall will focus on improving amenities to enhance the fan experience while preserving the current seat configuration and seating capacity. The south lobby will be restructured with a new entryway and dramatic atrium. Escalators will replace ramps in the south lobby. Throughout the arena, new branding and graphics will be updated to celebrate the tradition and success of IU basketball.
Existing bathrooms and concession stands will be remodeled and new bathrooms will be added. A large state-of-the-art video scoreboard will replace the current bifurcated scoreboard, improving fan experience for all fans in Assembly Hall, especially those sitting in the balcony. Box seat-style seating will be added above the south baseline bleachers and will generate revenue to pay for this seating and to help fund ongoing upkeep of Assembly Hall.
Behind the scenes, Assembly Hall's HVAC and other infrastructure systems will be updated and a state-of-the-art broadcast technology center will be added to enhance IU Athletics video production and game day broadcasts.
Assembly Hall has been home to IU basketball since 1971, and since then has hosted more than twelve million fans. Due to its unique, large-capacity design with the majority of its 17,472 seats on either side of the court, Assembly Hall - with the nation's largest student section (7,800) - is regarded as one of the loudest, and most intimidating venues in college basketball. A 2012 poll of Big Ten basketball players judged Assembly Hall to be the toughest home arena in the league. Assembly Hall has been home to three men's basketball national championship teams and the Hoosiers have a 504-98 record in the 42 seasons at the arena.
"Without question Assembly Hall is vital to the future of our program," said Men's Basketball Head Coach Tom Crean. "This incredible gift will ensure our players, coaches and fans are able to create many more memorable moments in a building filled with tradition and excellence."
"All over the country, people know what an intimidating environment Assembly Hall can be. It's one of our greatest assets and we are excited to see improvements made to our legendary facility that will dramatically improve the Hoosier fan experience."
"We are incredibly grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family for their generosity in funding Assembly Hall's renovations and kicking off the Catching Excellence campaign with this significant gift," added Crean. "The Simon Skjodt family is made up of diehard Hoosier fans and Hoosier Nation will be proud to have the Simon Sk