KU hoops alumnus makes football pledge

By Ryan Wood, Journal-World Sports Writer, Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Attempts to reform Kansas University's athletic facilities into competitive, recruit-luring venues received a big boost on Monday. Tom Kivisto, a former Kansas University basketball player, pledged $10 million toward the construction of a football facility adjacent to Memorial Stadium. Kansas already has received $2 million of the donation.

"We're excited about this gift," associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said. "It's another indication that people appreciate what (athletic director Lew Perkins') vision is and what he's trying to do." The longstanding plans to build a football facility had been stuck in fund-raising stages for more than a year, but Kivisto's contribution could get the plan going toward the next level.

The athletic department continues to work one step at a time, though, meaning no blueprints will be drawn or secondary plans made until finances are secured. "There's more fund raising to do," Marchiony said. "The facility is probably going to be $40 million dollars. We're up to about $18 million now."

Kivisto's pledge is by far the largest toward the project to date. A basketball player from 1971-74, Kivisto is president and CEO of SemGroup, L.P., a midstream energy-service company in Tulsa, Okla. Since being established in 2000, SemGroup has had its total assets grow more than $1 billion, making it one of the most successful private companies in the United States.

"My wife Julie and I love the University of Kansas, and as such we consider this a gift to the entire university," Kivisto said in a statement. "I believe a successful football program helps a university at every level. By making the football program stronger, the entire university and all of its sports programs are the beneficiaries."

If the facility is constructed as originally envisioned, it will include locker rooms, a weight room, film and meeting rooms and a training room near Memorial Stadium. A practice football field also would be planned. Such facilities exist at programs all around the Big 12 Conference, and from a recruiting standpoint, Perkins and coach Mark Mangino stress it's important to keep up.

"What Tom Kivisto has done stands as a shining example for others," Mangino said in a statement. "Our coaching staff and players are all committed to making the KU football program a perennial power in the Big 12, and Tom's generosity will help us achieve that goal." Kivisto's contribution also could open the door for other donors to help polish off what's needed. "That's certainly the hope," Marchiony said. "I'm sure that's Tom Kivisto's hope."