HICKORY – Lenoir-Rhyne University has launched a campaign to raise $2.6 million to build the Neill McGeachy Sports Performance Center in honor of the late Bears athlete and former director of intercollege athletics.
The school announced the campaign in honor of McGeachy — a 1965 LRU graduate who died earlier this year – at its annual on-campus dinner on Tuesday night.
LRU’s athletic department and the Bears Club that McGeachy served as its executive director will spearhead the fundraising effort.
The campaign theme announced for the project is Forever 46 in honor of McGeachy’s legacy and football jersey number at LRU.
He played football, basketball and participated in track and field at LRU as a student-athlete and was the Bears’ athletic director for 14 years.
“Paramount to sustained success of Bears athletics are facilities consistent with a championship program,” LRU President Dr. Fred Whitt said in a press release. “The Neill McGeachy Sports Performance Center will not only honor Neill’s memory and his commitment to LR, but it will also enhance the student-athlete experience and performance, improve recruiting, and magnify the visibility of LR athletics in an increasingly competitive environment.”
The facility will feature 14,000 square feet of new and enhanced multi-use training space, a weight room, nutrition bar and indoor turf training area, enhanced team meeting spaces, additional coaches offices, and a covered pavilion for Bears Club hospitality and engagement space.
The athletic department aims to break ground on this project in the next year.
“This initiative is incredibly special as it allows us to celebrate and honor Neill’s life work and the profound impact he had on LR, while building a state-of-the-art facility that supports our strategic vision to develop and prepare our student-athletes not only for competition but also for life,” LRU Athletic Director Kim Pate said in the press release. “This facility will support our coaches’ efforts in developing their student-athletes’ mind, body, and spirit in support of LR’s mission to develop the whole person.”
The facility will support student-athletes in all 22 sports at LRU, where the student-athlete population has almost doubled over the past decade.
Additional space in the McGeachy building will support immediate and future needs of the entire athletic program. It will also support growing needs of the Bears Club by providing a covered pavilion for hosting game-day hospitality events, as well as an engagement space for teams and the broader campus community.
“The new facility will serve as an excellent recruiting tool that will enable us to attract top athletic talent across all 22 teams and will position LR in the top 10 percent of all DII programs for sports performance facilities,” LRU head football coach Drew Cronic said in the press release.
Donors who make a transformational gift of $25,000 or more will join Club 46 and have their name printed prominently on the Club 46 donor recognition signage in the Bears Club Pavilion. Additional donor opportunities and naming recognition are available at all giving levels.
Tuesday’s dinner at LRU featured chats with three accomplished coaches who have unique ties to LRU and to McGeachy – former Bears basketball player Rick Barnes, now head men’s basketball coach at Tennessee; former LRU head football coach Mike Houston, now head coach at James Madison; and Ryan Odom, who coached at LRU for one season and is now head coach at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
— Reported by LRU Sports Information