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$4M donation from Graham family for University of Saskatchewan

(L-R) University of Saskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff, Jane Graham and Ron Graham. The Graham’s have donated $4 million towards the construction of Merlis Belsher Place at the university. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has received another big donation towards the construction of Merlis Belsher Place, the $41 million replacement for Rutherford Rink.

This time, however, the money is going to help support Saskatchewan Huskies basketball.

READ MORE: University of Saskatchewan Home Ice Campaign receives $500K from Wyant Group

U of S alumni Ron and Jane Graham announced their gift of $4 million to help build two NBA-size practice courts at the new facility.

The addition will include locker rooms and team rooms for both Huskies squads, easing congestion at the PAC which is also used for volleyball and as an exam space.

“To have a facility that is solely going to be dedicated and available to our student athletes around the clock and to be in a facility where you’re the only one practicing and it’s a world class facility, the space, the time, I can’t even tell you how much that’s going to mean to our program,” Huskies women’s basketball coach Lisa Thomaidis said.

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The Grahams have donated close to $20 million to the university over the years and in honour of their contributions their names will now grace centre court at the PAC.

“We want to make sure that this university doesn’t lack for anything that any other university in the country has and in those two sports,” Ron Graham said.

“We’re almost there, there’s always some tweaking to be done, but I think both football and the courts, the basketball courts, will allow that to happen.”

READ MORE: University of Saskatchewan launches final funding drive for new hockey facility

“We are privileged to have the support of Ron and Jane Graham, who are shining examples of what it means to be passionate University of Saskatchewan alumni,” U of S president Peter Stoicheff added.

“Their generosity is evident across campus, having contributed to numerous athletic initiatives, academic programs, and student scholarships. Simply put, they are outstanding supporters who have made a positive impact on our campus for our entire community.”

The university is still looking to raise the final $7 million for the project through its Home Ice campaign.

Once complete, Merlis Belsher Place will become an essential facility for Huskie Athletics, Saskatoon minor hockey and the community.

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