$1 million Saluki Way donation announced

By Gus Bode

A member of the board of directors for the university’s primary fundraiser became the largest individual donor to Saluki Way Thursday.

Greg Cook, a business owner from Carbondale, said he and his wife, Nancy, would donate $1 million to the first phase of Saluki Way, a project that includes the construction of a new football stadium and the renovation of the SIU Arena.

Cook, part owner of Cook Portable Warehouses and a former SIUC student, said at a press conference the donation was made in memory of his father, John. Cook said his father, who co-founded the business with him, was a dedicated fan of Saluki athletics.

Advertisement

“If he were alive today he’d be one of the first guys getting in line to support this project,” he said.

The lifelong Carbondale resident serves on the board of directors for the SIU Foundation, an independent organization that raises money for the university. The foundation is charged with raising the $43 million in private money for Saluki Way.

Cook has also served on several athletic department search committees at the university. His position on the board was part of what led him to consider donating to the project, he said.

“My goal was just to get the funds going and be a part of it as early in this process as I could,” he said.

Cook said he had not discussed the possibility of having naming rights in the new or renovated structures.

“If something would become available and that would be a possibility, then that would be wonderful, but at this time we don’t have anything definitive along those lines,” he said.

The cost of the first phase of Saluki Way has been projected at $83 million. Increases in student fees are to pay for $38 million of the project, leaving $43 million to be raised in other ways, such as private donations.

Advertisement

Rickey McCurry, vice-chancellor for institutional advancement, said the Cooks’ contribution puts Saluki Way fundraising at $2.3 million.

Old National Bank donated $450,000 to the project in August 2006, and the City of Carbondale has pledged to donate $1 million per year to the project over a 20-year period.

Athletic director Mario Moccia said Saluki Way is set to break ground in the fall. The plan is for the first football game to be played in the new stadium in 2010, he said.

Chancellor Fernando Trevi’ntilde;o said a lack of money from the state has strained the budgets of many universities. Contributions from private donors such as the Cooks make it possible to continue offering students the same opportunities, he said.

“We’re very fortunate to have some outstanding friends of this university,” he said.

Joe Crawford can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected]

Advertisement