Jerry and Karen Wests giving to WVU surpasses$1 million
Morgantown , W.Va. – Jerry West, former West Virginia University basketball standout and NBA Hall of Fame inductee, and wife Karen, are making an $800,000 commitment to benefit WVU, bringing their total contributions to in excess of $1 million.
“ Karen and I normally prefer to keep our charitable giving private. As an alumnus of WVU and as proud parents of a current WVU student, we know how important private support is to the University for both athletics and academics. In sharing this gift publicly, we hope to encourage others to make contributions to West Virginia University, ” said West.
The contribution, being made through the WVU Foundation, includes $250,000 for the new Athletic Academic Performance Center in the Coliseum and $300,000 to be divided equally between the Jerry and Karen West and Ann Dinardi Basketball Scholarship Fund and the Jerry West Scholarship Fund. The designation for the remaining funds will be announced at a later date.
West ' s gift to the Athletic Academic Performance Center is in memory of his brother, David, who was killed during the Korean Conflict, and in honor of his long-time friend and WVU teammate Willie Akers and wife, Linda. The 8,000-square-foot Academic Center is six-times larger than the existing space. It will provide individual and group study areas as well as a state-of-the art computer lab and will be utilized by more than 450 male and female student-athletes.
In 2004, West renamed his basketball scholarship endowment to include the name of Ann Dinardi, who passed away in October 2003 and whom he called his “ mom away from home ” during his college playing days. In addition, he designated royalty monies derived from the sale of the popular Jerry West ‘ throwback ' jerseys to be placed into the endowment.
West, president of basketball operations for the NBA ' s Memphis Grizzlies, has been honored by his alma mater on several occasions. A statue of West to be located at the main entrance of the WVU Coliseum will be unveiled and dedicated at 1:45 p.m. Saturday, February 17.
In 2006 he received an honorary degree and was the keynote speaker for WVU ' s 137th Commencement Ceremony and was the featured speaker for the Don Nehlen Distinguished Lecture Series. His has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni, the School of Physical Education Hall of Fame and the Athletic Department Hall of Fame. WVU also retired his jersey – number 44, making West the first WVU basketball player to be so honored.
Jerry and Karen West ' s youngest son, Jonnie, is currently a freshman on the Mountaineer basketball team and has been red-shirted. The couple resides in Memphis, Tenn.
A native of Cabin Creek, W.Va., West is the all-time leading scorer in WVU basketball history. His career, which included a scoring average of 24.8 points per game, was highlighted by a trip to the NCAA Championship game in 1959 and his being named the tournament ' s Most Outstanding Player. As a senior, West was a consensus All-America and led WVU to its third consecutive conference championship. He also co-captained the 1960 Olympic gold medal-winning team.
Following his days at WVU, West amassed a stellar NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers that included; 14 All-Star appearances, 10 All-NBA First Team and four All-Defensive First Team selections. He was MVP of the NBA finals in 1969 and helped the Lakers to the NBA championship in 1972. In 1980 he was named to the NBA ' s 35th Anniversary All-Time Team, and in 1995 to the NBA ' s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
After retiring in 1974, West coached the Lakers for three seasons (1976-79) and moved on as a consultant, general manager, and executive vice president for basketball operations, where he helped guide the Lakers to eight NBA championships.
The WVU Foundation is a private non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of West Virginia University.