HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point University has reached a milestone in fundraising over the last decade. HPU has now received more than $300 million in gifts since 2005 thanks the generosity of parents, alumni and advocates who gave several million in 2016, as well as a new gift from one of the university’s most recognized alumni couples.
University of Memphis head men’s basketball coach Orlando “Tubby” Smith and his wife, Donna Smith, are donating $1 million to support HPU’s new Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center. The arena will become the home of HPU’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, and the basketball court will be named in honor of the Smiths.
The Qubein Arena and Conference Center will also serve as a venue for major events, speakers, concerts, entertainment and other large gatherings and recreational activities. It will seat 4,500 spectators and include suites, locker rooms, staff offices, concession stands, a merchandising area, media suite, film room, press conference room, weight room, athletic training room, hospitality area, high tech audio and video equipment, ticket office and practice gym.
Tubby Smith captained the basketball team and earned all-conference honors as a senior before graduating from HPU in 1973. The Maryland native also met his wife, Donna, while they were both students on campus. She was the university’s first African-American homecoming queen.
Smith went on to lead an illustrious coaching career. Before becoming head coach at Memphis, he served in the same role at five other institutions – Texas Tech, Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tulsa – all of which he took to the NCAA Tournament. At Kentucky, he led the Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA championship title.
In total, Smith has amassed more than 557 career victories in 26-seasons of coaching. He is one of only seven still coaching who has reached 500 wins and captured a national title.
He has also been honored as National Coach of the Year three times, received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award, the Mannie Jackson award for humanitarian efforts, helped coach the USA Olympic basketball team to a gold medal in 2000, coached 13 NBA draft picks and had 22 former players go on to play in the NBA.
“I always tell kids about the importance of getting an education, and that is what I got from High Point University – an education on how to make decisions, how to live and conduct myself, and how to help others,” Smith says. “High Point has been a blessing to my family, and we give back as much as we can to our alma mater and the people who helped us reach our goals and play and coach the game I love.”
“Tubby and Donna’s legacy began here at HPU and has spread throughout the nation,” says Dr. Nido Qubein, HPU president. “The mentorship they received here prepared them for a life of success and significance, and today they mentor and prepare others to achieve greatness.”
The Smiths have also enjoyed being part of the growth and transformation taking place at HPU.
“I have relatives around the country who call me and ask me about High Point University,” Tubby Smith says. “That’s a good thing to know my alma mater is thought of so highly.”
Smith has also been honored at HPU many times, including being inducted into the HPU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2011, the university held “Tubby Smith Night” in honor of his career and the first time the university hosted an ACC opponent – Wake Forest University – in men’s basketball.