“This is a significant step forward for the basketball programs and the athletics program, and a great announcement for Missouri State University,” said MSU Interim President Clif Smart. “We very much appreciate the generosity of Mr. Morris and what this gift will mean to student-athletes for many years to come.
“We still have some work to do to finish funding the project, but this lead gift will allow us to move forward with plans while we finish obtaining gifts and commitments. Once this is completed, it will have a positive impact on our basketball programs.”
Gifts to the basketball complex will be included in the Our Promise Campaign. The campaign recently topped its $125 million goal and officials of the Missouri State University Foundation hope to reach $150 million milestone by Dec. 31. In 2008, an initial major gift was given by the McQueary family designated for the basketball complex project.
“We are extremely grateful for this gift and Mr. Morris’ commitment to the future of MSU athletics. It helps many aspects of our athletics program and improves the front porch of the university,” said Kyle Moats, director of intercollegiate athletics. “The impact on our basketball teams and their recruiting efforts is tremendous. But, the success of our basketball programs also affects every student-athlete and every intercollegiate program financially. The broad scope of this project and the commitment it takes to make this dream come true is certainly very special to everyone who wears maroon and white.”
Morris’ generosity to MSU and the region has been widely documented. His gift in 1998 allowed the university to renovate the Jim D. Morris Center in downtown Springfield (southwest corner of Jefferson Avenue at McDaniel Street). He was named Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Ozark chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives in 2000 and has been a key part of the downtown Springfield revitalization efforts and the development of the Branson area into an international entertainment destination. He founded Morris Oil Co., the largest independent marketer of petroleum fuels in Missouri, when he was 23 years old. He is also the owner and founder of Morris Group Hotels and founder of Signature Bank.
Smart will recommend the naming of the center to the Board of Governors for official approval at the Board’s March 30 meeting.