CHICAGO — Though his job keeps him on the West Coast for long stretches, John Giuliani knows his way around Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center.
"He comes back a lot with the sole purpose of seeing us play," Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said Friday night. "He'd be OK with me saying that in a lot of ways, he's just a normal guy, a guy who bleeds orange and blue."
Giuliani will be courtside for today's Illinois men's basketball game against Illinois-Chicago at the United Center, but not just to root on his alma mater (Class of '83). The CEO of ValueClick Inc., a California-based online advertising company, Giuliani will be recognized during an on-court ceremony for his $5 million naming rights gift for a premium seating area — the John Giuliani Family Traditions Club — at State Farm Center.
Giuliani is the first donor announced by the UI, which is selling naming rights to sections of State Farm Center to help finance renovations.
"He was one of the first people we approached to support the State Farm Center renovation, and obviously he came on board at a very high level," Thomas said.
Giuliani is a 1979 Rantoul High grad.
"From the first time I met Coach (John) Groce and the athletics department leadership, I believed in their vision for the future," he said in a statement released by the UI on Friday.