The $6.7 million facility is part of the "Investing in Champions" Athletic Association initiative and in recognition of the gift, has been named the Rankin M. Smith, Sr., Student-Athlete Academic Center honoring the UGA alumnus and former owner of the Atlanta Falcons. The gift is being administered by the UGA Foundation. Dedication of the new center took place on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2002 at 11:00 a.m. prior to the Georgia victory over Tennessee in Athens later that day.
"The generosity of some of the Smith family members is overwhelming and the gift is genuinely appreciated by all those connected with both the Athletic Association and the University," said former UGA Director of Athletics Vince Dooley.
"Many in the Smith family have been dedicated, long-time supporters of our sports program and this will be an enduring legacy to Rankin's loyalty to Georgia and his commitment to excellence in both academics as well as athletics. He was a loyal and dedicated friend to me for many, many years."
The new 31,000 square foot facility consists of computer labs, multi-media classroom, 20 large and small group tutoring rooms, writing center, counselor's office, and large assembly area with seating for 250.
"It is most appropriate that the Smith family's loyal generosity to the University of Georgia be commemorated in the naming of this important facility dedicated to the academic advancement of our student-athletes," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "Athletics is an important part of student life and of the campus community. As a former trustee, Rankin M. Smith, Jr. continues to demonstrate his strong support for UGA Athletic programs with this gift."
"Rankin and I were lifelong friends after being in school together at Georgia and he was one of my very early supporters when I ran for Governor," said former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders. "I always told Rankin if he cut himself shaving, he'd bleed red and black and I think it is most appropriate that this much-needed facility be named in honor of Rankin through the generosity of the Smith family. This academic center is very important to provide a necessary opportunity for student-athletes who must meet the demands of academic expectations as well as the strenuous disciplines of practice and performance in today's sports programs at UGA.
"Rankin loved Georgia and he loved the Falcons," Sanders added. "When Pete Roselle (NFL Commissioner) told me the NFL was going to put a team in Atlanta and asked for my recommendation on an owner, I immediately recommended Rankin. Rankin was also a great lover of the outdoors and while serving as Governor, I appointed him to the Game and Fish Commission. He was a great Atlantan and a great Georgian."