LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has been talking about building an academic center for athletics for almost as long as he's been at U of L.
A partnership with Maker's Mark will help make that happen. Jurich and Maker's Mark Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels announced today that the sale of commemorative bottles featuring the name and image of U of L football coach Charlie Strong will help fund the new facility, an $8 million Academic Center of Excellence located under the Norton Terrace behind the south end zone at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Samuels, who noted that his grandparents, who founded the Maker's Mark brand, were U of L alumni, said, "I'm thrilled to be able to contribute in this way to the academic success of U of L athletics."
Jurich said that the south end zone terrace was built with the infrastructure for an academic center already in place. The building will house academic operations for the entire athletic department and will include tutorial areas, laboratories, office areas and study and classroom space.
Fund-raising for the facility is just in the beginning phase, but an anonymous seven-figure gift and what is expected to be a least $500,000 from Maker's Mark gets the ball rolling, Jurich said.
"We're so grateful to the Samuels family and Maker's Mark," Jurich said. "It's a crucial project for the development of our entire athletic program."
Maker's Mark is not receiving naming rights to the building, nor did it seek them. Jurich said he didn't have any concern having the name of an alcohol company attached to the academic effort.
"None at all," Jurich said. "Maker's Mark is an iconic name in Kentucky and they've done so much for so many great causes in this state. I view it like Churchill Downs. I don't view Churchill Downs as a gambling company, but as an iconic Kentucky name."
Maker's Mark produced 8,400 of the Charlie Strong commemorative bottles, which went on sale in Kentucky retail outlets on July 20.
For those who want their bottles autographed, 700 tickets will go on sale for $1 each on http://louisville-events.cbscollegestore.com/ (or UofLSports.com) beginning at 9 a.m. on July 26 for the opportunity to have the bottle signed by Strong, Samuels, and Jurich at a special event on August 1st. Each person is allowed to bring a maximum of two bottles to be signed. Bottles must be purchased at a retail outlet prior to the signing; there will be no bottles for sale at the signing.
The bottle-signing will be Wednesday, August 1, at 5 p.m. at the Mellwood Art Center. Previously purchased tickets will be available to be picked up at 4 pm. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
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