Thanks to a major gift from Springfield philanthropist and long-time Missouri State University supporter Jim D. Morris, work will begin this year on the basketball locker rooms and team facilities in JQH Arena. In recognition of the gift, it will be named the Jim D. Morris Basketball Complex.
The University announced the gift Wednesday (March 7) at a morning news conference. The design of the complex will begin soon, with a target completion date of fall 2013. The two-level complex, located on the south side of the arena floor, will include locker rooms for both the Bears and Lady Bears basketball teams; coaches’ offices; an athletic training facility; an academic study area; a state-of-the-art team video room; and other support areas. When JQH Arena opened in 2008, the area for the complex was left as shell space with the anticipation it would be completed at a later time through private gifts. Now that dream is closer to becoming a reality.
“This is a significant step forward for the basketball programs and the athletics program, and a great announcement for Missouri State University,” said Missouri State 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 December 31. In 2007, 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 Missouri State University and the region has been widely documented. His 1998 gift allowed the University to renovate the Jim D. Morris Center in downtown Springfield, and his 2008 contribution made possible The Jim D. Morris Family Strength and Conditioning Center located in Hammons Student Center. 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.