CHAMPAIGN — Former Illinois men's basketball manager Dennis Swanson and his wife, Katharine, have donated $1 million toward the Ubben Basketball Complex renovation. It is the first announced gift toward the estimated $30 million expansion of the Illini basketball practice facility. The Swansons also donated toward the renovation of State Farm Center and to the Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunications within the College of Media.
“We are very excited to announce this gift from Dennis and Kathy,” Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a release. “Illinois Basketball has been a great passion of the Swanson family since Dennis’ days on our campus. Throughout Dennis’ remarkable career, he led many successful efforts to build great teams, and he understands the importance of resources to do so. With this gift, Dennis is again taking an active role in a build process, and our state-of-the-art facility will be critical to our success.
"During Dennis’ time with Illinois Basketball he was surrounded by some of the game’s best; with such an impactful gift, he is helping Illinois Basketball produce another generation of greats. Our thanks to Dennis and Kathy for such generous support of our bold vision for the future of Illinois Basketball.”
The Ubben renovation and expansion will add approximately 45,000 square feet to the existing 20-year-old structure, while remodeling more than 8,300 square feet of existing space. Among the additions will be new office space, two new half courts to each side of the facility for both the men's and women's teams, a two-story strength and conditioning room, more locker room space and a state-of-the-art sports medicine area.
“For those who love Illinois basketball, it’s time to step forward and help Coach Brad Underwood as he rebuilds our program to national prominence again,” Dennis Swanson said. “The University of Illinois did so much for me when I was a young man seeking a higher education that it makes me feel good to again say thank you in this fashion.”
Swanson was a student manager for former Illinois basketball coach Harry Combes before graduating with a bachelor's in journalism. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, reaching the rank of captain, and then returned to Illinois to earn a master's in communication and political science.
Swanson has held several executive positions in media, including President of ABC Sports, Vice President and Chief Operating Office of CBS Television Stations Inc., President of Station Operations for Fox Television Stations Group and co-chair of NBC Olympics. He is a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame
“We are so appreciative of this gift by Dennis and Kathy as we aim to provide our players with the best performance center in the country,” Underwood said. “Dennis is a proud and loyal Illini who served the program as a student and has continued that support throughout his distinguished career. We are fortunate to have an alum like Dennis committed to this project and the future of Fighting Illini basketball."