Mississippi couple donates $10M to Ole Miss, will have arena named for them

Published 10:16 pm Saturday, June 19, 2021

A Mississippi couple is giving $10 million to the University of Mississippi’s athletics foundation, and the school’s basketball and event arena has been named for them.

The arena, which opened in January 2016, is now called “The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss.”

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board approved the name Thursday, a university news release said.

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John Black is a retired certified public accountant and entrepreneur from Madison.

“We’re fortunate that we’re able to do something like this and leave a legacy so to speak,” he said. “We decided to respond with a gift that we could be proud of and have our kids and grandkids take a look from time to time as they happen to pass by this facility.”

Sandy Black added, “We hope it will instill in them the importance of giving back to the community. We also want them to realize how important the University of Mississippi is to us.”

The contribution to the Vaught Society, the philanthropic arm of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, is their third major gift to the school.

They gave $11 million in 2015 to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the largest private gift it has ever received in one year. They also made a major gift to renovate the guest house at the chancellor’s home on the Oxford campus.

In 2019, $500,000 from Sandy Black essentially bought 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 his home in Oxford.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the Blacks’ loyalty to their alma mater is “as wide as it is deep –- reaching broadly into not only athletics but also academics and the many facets of our medical center.”