UT Tyler athletes, faculty and other distinguished guests filled the newly anointed Al & Nancy Jones Auxiliary Gymnasium on Tuesday. University officials honored Nancy and her late husband, Al, at the ceremonies for their generous donation, which led to the new gym.
The Joneses, along with business partners, donated $120,000 earlier this year to help renovate the vacant space on the UT Tyler campus. The space housed a theater for 20 years, followed by a cafeteria and bookstore before the University Center was renovated.
Al, who passed away in June, began Equipment Service and Sales Company in Lindale in 1979 with three partners. He was an avid supporter of the UT Tyler golf program and helped contribute funds for a golf practice facility on campus a few years ago.
During the ceremony Bill Marsh, a business partner with the Joneses, spoke on behalf of the Joneses and donated an additional $20,000 to be used for a recruitment room.
“Obviously when you have some of your capital to work with you can make some changes to facilities and make them better,” said Dr. Howard Patterson, UT Tyler athletic direction.
“We’re a young (athletic) program and young programs need help to continue to grow, especially in this economy. The gift means so much to the campus, the students and the faculty and staff, and our ability to provide a facility everyone can use.”
The auxiliary gym is equipped to house basketball, volleyball, badminton and many other sports. It will also be used by the university’s golf, baseball and softball teams as an indoor hitting facility.
“Mr. and Mrs. Jones have been good friends of mine and Mr. Jones was my best friend,” said King Campbell, UT Tyler golf coach and assistant athletic director. “He was a generous man who had done quite well in the business world and was willing to share a lot of that success.”
The University’s student fee committee, along with the Joneses’ donation, help allocate funds to make the renovation possible. Ona Tolliver, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said the committee received a request in January to assist with the funding.
The committee approved $70,000 for the project, which she says includes $65,000 for the renovation and $5,000 for the purchase of equipment.
The gym not only provides an additional space for student athletes to practice, but also for intramural sports on campus.
“I’m very excited,” said Jameson Adams, recreational sports program coordinator. “This is going to allow us to have multiple programs and expand our programming.
“In the past and only having the Herrington Patriot Center and scheduling around practices, this allows all students an opportunity to enjoy playing a sport and to enjoy that over a long period of time.”
Adams said 25 hours each week has already been allotted for student and faculty use of the new gym, which he said satisfies a demand from the students.
The auxiliary gym is scheduled to be open from 5 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.