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Thanks to the largest cash donation the University of Montana athletic department has ever received, Grizzly coaches and staff members will be working out of new John C. Hoyt Athletic Complex by August.

Hoyt, a Great Falls attorney, and his wife, Vicki, have donated approximately $550,000 to the athletic department to complete office renovations in the Adams Center.

The donation was announced Tuesday by Montana athletic director Wayne Hogan at a press conference.

As the announcement was being made, construction workers were busy in the west wing of the Adams Center starting the project, which is expected to cost roughly $900,000. Approximately $300,000 in private contributions previously had been raised.

Since work began on the Adams Center in the spring of 1998, coaches and athletic staff members have been working in trailers just north of Wash ington-Grizzly Stadium, and in sky boxes at the stadium.

“ I had seen the trailers and the working conditions there and I was appalled,” said Hoyt, who graduated from the UM School of Law school in 1948. “ I couldn't believe it. They needed decent working space just like all the other instructors at our university.”

“ I was ashamed at the conditions we were compelling our coaches to work in,” he added. “ I wanted to get them out of the mud and it didn't look like we were gonna get it done.”

The project originally was part of the Adams Center renovation, but was pared when other phases of the renovation ate into the budget.

“ Our first priority in the project was to provide adequate facilities for our student athletes,” Hogan said. “ Second, we wanted a venue that would be comfortable, convenient, and accessible for fans of Grizzly athletics. Our staff needs came third.”

The Hoyt Athletic Complex will create 40 offices for coaches and administrative personnel.

The first phase of the complex will be completed in June. The second will be completed in August. It will house 64 full-time coaches and administrators. The Grizzly Athletic Association will move from Brantly Hall into the new complex.

“ We really had a situation where we had a lot of coaches and staff inconvenienced,” Hogan said. “ It's not fun to go to work when you're in disarray. After two years it gets pretty old.

“ The key is, it was a hard thing to solve. There isn't a lot of money out there. We had to go find it. I'm just elated. This is gonna do so much for staff morale.”

Hoyt said he originally gave $25,000 to the project and believed it was enough. At that time, Hoyt said, he really only cared about the football and basketball programs and was n't much of a fan of sports like golf, volleyball and tennis.

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He said he decided to give the large sum after seeing the big picture.

“ Physically fit people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life,” he said. “ These coaches right in this room will teach the students at this school these various sports.

“ I think sports and the activities we teach are as important as what we learn in the academic side,” Hoyt said. “ For these reasons, and because I knew that our young people will live longer and better because they exercise more, these are the reasons I finally saw the big picture.”

Hoyt's law firm of Hoyt and Blewett gave $150,000 to the UM Law School in 1998.

Local businessman Dennis Washington donated $1 million to the athletic department in 1985 to help with construction of WashingtonGrizzly Stadium. That donation, however, was not a cash gift.

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

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