Madison couple gives $10 million gift to name The Pavilion at Ole Miss

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, June 17, 2021

After being open for over five years, The Pavilion at Ole Miss has a new name.

The basketball arena has been officially named the Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss in recognition of a $10 million gift from the Madison couple. The Institutions of Higher Learning’s Board of Trustees approved the naming during their monthly meeting on Wednesday.

Longtime supporters, the Blacks said they’ve been fortunate financially and want to make a gift they could enjoy with their family: three adult children, eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter – most of whom attended Ole Miss.

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The Blacks’ latest gift is their third contribution to the Vaught Society, the philanthropic leadership group of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.

In 2015, the Blacks made an $11 million gift to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the largest private gift ever received by UMMC in a single year. Since then, the Blacks also made a major gift to renovate the guest house at the chancellor’s home on the Oxford campus.

In 2019, Sandy Black made a $500,000 gift, essentially purchasing all of William Faulkner’s furniture from the Nobel Prize-winning author’s extended family with the understanding that the pieces would remain permanently on display at Rowan Oak – Faulkner’s historic Oxford, Mississippi, home. Black fell in love with Faulkner’s home in 1989, when she and a group of friends began attending the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference.

John Black, a University of Mississippi Foundation board member, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the university in 1961 and a master’s degree in accountancy in 1962. In college, he was a Taylor Medalist and member of Omicron Delta Kappa academic honorary and Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Sandy Black attended the university and was a member of Phi Mu sorority.

“Sandy and John are leaders in the Ole Miss community, and we cannot begin to thank them enough for their commitment to our campus,” said Keith Carter, vice chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics. “We are beyond excited to honor their great passion and engagement by placing their names on the Pavilion.”

The arena has been called The Pavilion at Ole Miss since it opened in 2016. On July 31, 2014, ground was broken on the 225,000-square-foot arena.