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  • Writer's pictureMason Edwards!

UTC Admin and Donors Break Ground for Multimillion-Dollar Athletic Facility

By Mason Edwards, Staff Writer for the University Echo

Leaders of the UTC community kick off construction of the Wolford Family Atheltic Center. Friday, March 25, 2022. Allie English, Assistant Photo Editor.


On Friday, March 25, the historic groundbreaking for the Wolford Family Athletic Center was hosted by UTC administrators outside McKenzie Arena’s front gates. Even the chilling wind did not deter crowds of students and faculty in attendance.


The audience size exceeded expectations, outnumbering the amount of available seating. Several media organizations covered the event, with at least three cameras watching. Dozens of student-athletes wore their team’s athletic wear, representing nearly every sport on campus. Coaches conversed with each other, eagerly anticipating the introduction of the Wolford Family Athletic Center.


Chancellor Angle opened the ceremony with a summary of the project and expressions of gratitude for James L. “Bucky” Wolford and the Wolford family’s contributions to the university.


“The ground floor will include football locker rooms, expanded athletic training space, [and] both men’s and women’s basketball rooms,” said Angle, who expects the project’s completion in two years. “The two upper floors will house meeting space, classrooms, student support labs, offices, and six thousand square feet of event space.”


The facilities set aside 61,000 square feet for student-athletes, at a cost of $34 million. As previously stated in the Echo article, “Wolford Family Athletic Center considered a ‘Big Win’ for UTC Athletics,” 35,000 square feet will be new space while around 25,000 square feet of McKenzie Arena will be renovated.


Introduced by Angle, close friend John “Thunder” Thornton honored Wolford’s humble beginnings, esteemed character, record-setting college football career, successful business, and generous family. Thornton’s anecdotes from Wolford’s life livened the air, sending chuckles rippling across rows of onlookers. 


"[Wolford was] so easy to admire, and to respect, and to love,” Thornton said. 

As his speech came to a close, Thornton recalled the time that Wolford, in a room full of orange-blooded UT higher-ups, introduced himself by saying, “My blood runs blue and gold, and it always will.” 


“You couldn’t find a better man and a better family for this name to go on this building,” Thornton concluded. 


Vice Chancellor of Development and Alumni Affairs Kim White followed, remarking on the impact of Wolford’s life for UTC and her glee in seeing his family at the ceremony. For her, it was a privilege to work with him.


“He was dedicated and a passionate leader who gave tirelessly to the University,” White said. “This building will serve as a great reminder of his legacy and his impact, and I hope also, as an inspiration to others.”


She thanked the Wolford family for their contributions, the UC Foundation Board, and the many donors of the project.


Following their speeches, UTC administrators, members of the Wolford family, and Hoar Construction affiliates gathered, shovels in hand, around a patch of upturned soil that would serve as the starting point of the project.


A recording of the entire ceremony can be found here.


Virtual renderings of the project are hosted on UTC’s Facilities, Planning & Management Twitter page.

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