Covellis commit $10 million to Ohio State for new arena
Covelli Enterprises owner and CEO Sam Covelli has committed $10 million to The Ohio State University to assist in funding the construction of a multi-sport arena. It is the single largest cash gift from an individual donor to the Department of Athletics.
The transformational gift will provide critical amenities for student-athletes in men’s and women’s volleyball, gymnastics, fencing and wrestling, including new locker rooms, offices, training and treatment rooms. The teams and individual student-athletes are consistently ranked in the nation’s top 25 programs, including the fencing team and men’s volleyball teams, which both were national champions last year.
The transformational gift will provide critical amenities for student-athletes in men’s and women’s volleyball, gymnastics, fencing and wrestling, including new locker rooms, offices, training and treatment rooms. The teams and individual student-athletes are consistently ranked in the nation’s top 25 programs, including the fencing team, which earned its fourth NCAA championship last year.
Covelli, the largest franchisee of Panera Bread in the United States and Canada, and his wife Caryn, will present a ceremonial check to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee on Saturday, Nov. 24, during halftime of the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game. In recognition of the Covellis’ substantial support, the university will name the facility Covelli Arena.
"It is truly an honor for Caryn and me to make this gift to the University," said Sam Covelli. "With a son who recently graduated from Ohio State, and businesses in Columbus, we realize how special Ohio State is both academically under the leadership of Dr. Gee and athletically under the direction of Gene Smith."
Gene Smith, director of athletics said, "As we came to know Caryn and Sam Covelli, their passion for The Ohio State University and its athletics program was clear. Their investment in the Covelli Arena is a leadership gift that will provide a first class teaching and competitive facility for Olympic sports."
The new 4,000-seat Covelli Arena is part of a long-range plan to expand the current athletic district located north of Lane Avenue. The arena will be home to seven varsity sports including volleyball, gymnastics, fencing and wrestling. It will serve as a training facility for men’s and women’s volleyball, as an occasional venue for women’s basketball, and will host local tournaments and camps. Spaces in the state-of-the-art facility will be adaptable, allowing the venue to be custom configured by event.
"We take great pride in the University and want to do all that we can to support its continued success," Covelli said. "We recognize that in order for our athletics programs to continue to be the best in the country, it is important that our student athletes have state-of-the art facilities to train and compete. We are confident that the Covelli Arena will make a positive impact on student-athletes and look forward to being part of the University in the years to come."
The arena will also house administrative offices, a ticket office, concession area and catering space. It will serve as the meeting place for nearly 13,000 campers who participate in Department of Athletics programs each year.
"The university is grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Covelli for their investment in our students," said Michael Eicher, senior vice president for advancement and president of the Ohio State University Foundation. "This gift supports the university’s commitment to the students, staff and campus community."
The gift also supports the ongoing work of the university’s But for Ohio State campaign. Last month, Ohio State announced the launch of a $2.5 billion university-wide fundraising campaign that supports funding for five priority areas: placing students first, elevating faculty and academic enterprise, creating modern learning environments, emboldening our research agenda, and driving high-impact innovation.
Covelli also donated $150,000 to the construction of the new basketball practice facility. In addition to his generosity to Ohio State athletics, Covelli Enterprises founded Step Up for Stefanie, a 5K/2-mile fun run and walk benefitting The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the James. In its two-year history, the event has raised $300,000. The company has also sponsored events to recognize central Ohio veterans, police, firefighters and teachers and has partnered with Autism Speaks to raise money and awareness.
About Covelli Enterprises
Headquartered in Warren, Ohio, Covelli Enterprises supports hundreds of charitable and community organizations across the country, donating over $13 million a year to food banks, hunger relief agencies, and other non-profit organizations through Operation Dough-Nation, a charitable arm of Covelli Enterprises.
About Sam Covelli
Covelli has earned numerous awards including 2009 Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year, 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year for Northeast Ohio by Ernst & Young; and has been honored as one of the top 10 business people in northeast Ohio.
He has served on the boards of multiple organizations, was the founder of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Mahoning Valley and Western PA, was a founding sponsor of the Giant Eagle LPGA Tournament Classic and has received numerous proclamations from U.S. House and Senate members as well as from mayors in communities where he does business.
Sam and his wife, Caryn, have three children: Candace; Danielle; and Albert, who is a 2012 graduate of The Ohio State University.
About The Ohio State University
Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University is a world-class public research university and the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state of Ohio. With more than 63,000 students (including 56,000 in Columbus), the Wexner Medical Center, 14 colleges, 80 centers and 175 majors, the university offers its students tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the liberal arts, the sciences, and the professions.
About The Department of Athletics
Nationally recognized as one of the most comprehensive in all of college athletics, the Ohio State Department of Athletics offers 36 intercollegiate sports. Ohio State student-athletes have federal graduation rates of 81 percent, just ahead of the Ohio State student body (80 percent). Few schools can boast the overall history of success the Ohio State Buckeyes have enjoyed over the years. The varsity program is respected as one of the most comprehensive in all of college athletics and is 36 sports strong - 16 for men, 17 for women and three co-ed. Each year, Ohio State teams claim numerous Big Ten championships, compete in NCAA tournaments and vie for national titles while producing countless individual conference and national champions, All-America performers and scholar-athletes.