April 14, 2007
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss Athletic Department broke ground on the South End Zone Complex at M.M. Roberts Stadium, today, and Director of Athletics Richard Giannini has announced that Gene Carlisle, Southern Miss graduate, supporter, business owner and entrepreneur, has given the department $5 million, the largest single individual financial commitment at one time to the University.
"The Southern Miss Department of Athletics is extremely thankful to Gene, his wife, Karen, and their family for their loyal support over the years and their unprecedented generosity," Giannini said. "Their love and support for the University and especially the athletic department means so much. They have given in excess of six million dollars to athletics and without them, the South End Zone Complex wouldn't be possible."
With this gift, Carlisle has already given or committed upwards of $6.4 million to the Southern Miss Athletic Department. He was inducted into the Southern Miss M-Club Hall of Fame in 2006 and gave a generous gift to the athletic department to replace the turf on the football stadium with Momentum-Turf in 2004. The field was renamed in his honor, Carlisle-Faulkner Field, for his donation.
"The University of Southern Mississippi has great students and staff, but their facilities are lacking," Carlisle said. "You define who you are through your facilities. We're making great progress with facilities but as an athletic department we're under defined. We have better coaches and teams than our facilities show.
"Richard is doing a great job of rallying the alumni and supports to build first-class facilities. I love this University and I want to see it succeed."
Carlisle graduated from Southern Miss in 1964 and since then has been a dedicated alumnus. He is the founder of Carlisle Corporations, which operates more than 100 Wendy's restaurants, three Holiday Inn Hotels, a Hampton Inn and various apartment complexes. While his roots in Southern Miss date back to his undergraduate days - he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration - he continues to serve the University in a number of ways 40 years later.
Carlisle served as former chairman of the College of Business and Economic Development's Business Advisory Council, as well as currently serving on the board of Directors for both the University's Foundation and the Athletic Foundation. He chairs the campaign to raise funds for the College of Business and Economic Development's new building and was named the College's Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2002. He was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi Hall of Fame in 2003.
He and his wife, Karen, donated a Wendy's restaurant to the University in 1999. The restaurant was promptly leased back to Carlisle Corporation, with the University collecting nearly $100,000 to use for scholarships. In 2001, the university sold the restaurant back to the Carlisles for $700,000, further benefiting the University.
Carlisle was selected as the 2004 Southeast Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and was nominated for the National Entrepreneur of the Year. In September 2004, he received the prestigious Wendy's Founder Award presented annually to the outstanding franchisee of the year that embodies the values and common-sense business approach of Founder, Dave Thomas.
He serves as a trustee for the Wendy's National Advertising Program. He received the Wendy Award as 2001 Operator of the Year for the Southeast Region, Diamond Award for 2000 Sales Building Initiative, Sparkle Award for 2000 and 1999 Market Sales Increases.
Carlisle resides in Memphis with his family.
The South End Zone Complex is comprised of five separate levels, adding a new dimension to the stadium, as well as the Golden Eagle game day atmosphere at "The Rock."
The new edifice will include different types of seating, luxury suites, a Roof Top Plaza, locker room for visiting teams and space for an academic center. A new, state-of-the-art scoreboard with video display capabilities may also be erected over the top of the athletic center.
Additionally, the Eagles' Nest will be added on the east side of Roberts Stadium. It will include a new club-level premium seating area and will offer the ultimate in seating luxury for those who do not desire private suites, but are looking for an enhanced game-day experience.
M.M. Roberts Stadium Construction
Architects: JH & H, Jackson, Miss. Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La. Hnedak Bobo Group, Memphis, Tenn.
Contractor: Harrell Contracting, Jackson, Miss.
Completion Date: August 1, 2008
Estimated Construction Cost: $28,650,000
Total Costs with Contingency and Architect Fees: $31,760,500
South End Zone: 34 Suites - 950 seats Club Level - 320 seats 1,900 Additional bleacher seats with concessions and rest rooms Four elevators to service suites, club levels and press area Stadium Ticket Office Concourse connecting east and west side of the existing stadium Visiting Team Locker Room Scoreboard Operations Room 10,000 square feet for future academic space 190,500 additional square feet East Side: Club Level - 530 seats
Total Additional Seats: 3,700