Rebels receive record $25 million donation

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The entire population of Centreville, Dr. Gerald “Doc” Hollingsworth’s hometown, could fit in just one section of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

When he left for Ole Miss in 1949, the average U.S. household income was about $3,200 a year. His father, who had a second-grade education, was a laborer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation and also farmed and worked various jobs to make ends meet. Meanwhile, his devoted mother, whom Hollingsworth describes as “a great lady, the sweetest woman I’ve ever known,” encouraged and supported the family in their home.

“We were poor but everyone else was, too,” said Hollingsworth, now of Niceville, Florida, who recently contributed the equivalent of $25 million to Ole Miss Athletics. Of the donation, $10 million is a cash gift to be used through the Forward Together campaign; the remainder is in the form of a charitable remainder trust that will establish the Gerald M. Hollingsworth, M.D., Athletic Scholarship Endowment.

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A portion of Hollingsworth’s donation, which is the single largest gift not only to the campaign but to Ole Miss athletics as a whole, will be used to support the north end zone expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, where the playing field already bears his name.

In 1998, at a crucial phase in plans to attract private funds for a $13 million football stadium expansion, the Fort Walton Beach, Florida-based surgeon and entrepreneur stepped forward with a gift of $3 million, which brought his contributions to more than $5 million at the time and gave him naming rights to the gridiron.

“Transformational is the only adequate word I can summon when I think about Dr. Hollingsworth and the impact he has had on our entire university, “ said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss Director of Athletics. “’Doc continues to give to academic and athletic programs of the university, and his impact will be felt for eternity.

“Everyone who experiences Ole Miss as an alumnus, fan, coach, faculty, staff, student and student-athlete will see the difference his contributions have made to our beloved athletics program and university.”