The Southern Miss Department of Athletics announced Thursday that local businessmen Jim and Thomas Duff have made a significant financial contribution and will have the school’s Athletic Center named in their honor.
The building, which will now be called the Jim and Thomas Duff Athletic Center as recognition of the second largest gift ever given to the Southern Miss Athletics Department, was opened in the fall of 2002 and has been called simply the Athletic Center until now.
The Jim and Thomas Duff Athletic Center is located on the north end of Carlisle-Faulkner Field at Roberts Stadium and houses the football staff, players and support staff, as well as the Golden Eagles’ administrative offices and some of the school’s coaching staffs.
“We are pleased to be able to contribute to The University of Southern Mississippi and to help the university build its athletic program,” said Jim and Thomas Duff in a joint statement. “We love USM and have always supported the university and its key role in the growth and development of our state.
“We are very appreciative of the efforts of former athletic director Richard Giannini as he led the athletic department with integrity and vision to new heights. We are excited about the future of USM athletics under the outstanding leadership of Jeff Hammond. Southern Miss is an outstanding university with a proud athletic heritage and we are honored to be a part of it.”
Jim and Thomas Duff own five businesses, four of the top 100 largest private businesses in Mississippi; Southern Tire Mart, LLC, KLLM Transport Services, LLC, Forest Products Transports, LLC, T.L. Wallace Construction, LLC, and Pine Belt Ford, LLC. The companies employ 3,800 people, with revenues over $1.3 billion and are all headquartered in the state of Mississippi.
Thomas Duff is a graduate of Southern Miss with a College of Business degree in Banking and Finance.
“The Southern Miss Athletic Department is grateful to Jim and Thomas Duff for making a difference in the lives of so many student athletes at The University of Southern Mississippi with this gift,” said Hammond. “These humble, caring and generous men have been tremendous supporters of the University and Athletic Department over the years, and this gift reaffirms their commitment to advancing Southern Miss Athletics. This gift sets us up for a great start to the next 100 years of athletics at Southern Miss, and allows us to be so thankful to our many dedicated donors like Jim and Thomas who have helped take Southern Miss Athletics to the Top.”
The Duffs have also agreed to provide a semi-truck, trailer and drivers, courtesy of KLLM, to transport the Golden Eagles football equipment to all road games starting in the 2013 season.