Football season is still months away, but head coach David Cutcliffe had reason to celebrate Friday.
Two donors have pledged a combined $10 million to upgrade Duke Football's outdoor practice facility and build a visiting locker room and fieldhouse with a full-length practice field, Cutcliffe announced at a press conference in Yoh Football Center. Bob Pascal, Trinity '56, and Steve Brooks, Trinity '70, donated $6 million and $4 million, respectively, to the project. Pascal's gift eclipses Mary and Harold Yoh's $5.5 million donation in 1999 as the largest individual gift in Duke Athletics history.
The outdoor practice facility, which Director of Athletics Kevin White said will be called the fieldhouse, will be built adjacent to the team's practice field behind Wallace Wade Stadium. The fieldhouse will also be open for students playing club and intramural sports, although the football team will have priority scheduling.
"Because of the way Duke Football has been, this type of commitment changes the game," Cutcliffe told The Chronicle. "It changes everything. It changes everybody's attitude toward us."
Pascal and Brooks have donated to Duke's football program before. In 2006, Pascal offered to match all donations up to $100,000 until the University met its $1 million goal. Brooks is the namesake of Brooks Field, the team's outdoor practice facility. Pascal played for the Blue Devils from 1953 until 1955, and Brooks' son, Matt Brooks, was a kicker from 2001 to 2004.
White said that Pascal and Brooks' donations were even more significant because of the way the struggling economy has affected Duke's fundraising campaigns, and Pascal added that the recession made him more willing to make a statement.
"I had a lot of advice back home not do to it," said Pascal, the owner of the Pascal Group, a strategy consulting firm. "But to wait gives up another two or three years to have the things in place to win. I thought it had to be done now."
"Even with the trying economic times, it will hopefully encourage others to donate," said Brooks, president and CEO of the Phoenix American Insurance Group.
Brooks said that the combined gift had already prompted another booster to donate $1 million to the program. Brooks and Pascal met with Cutcliffe, White and Tom Coffman, associate athletic director for development and planning, about a month ago, and Cutcliffe said they decided to make the gift long after the economic crisis worsened in the fall. Coffman told The Chronicle in October that Duke's athletic department needed what he called "transformational gifts" to remain successful in the future.
Cutcliffe introduced the two donors and took photos with them in front of a large crowd of alumni and supporters on Duke's Alumni Weekend.
"You got any eligibility left?" Cutcliffe asked Pascal as they smiled for the cameras.
"I gave it to you!" Pascal said.
"You have, and then some," he said.
Check back with The Chronicle's Sports Blog over the weekend and The Chronicle Monday for more details about the gift.