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NBA player Robert Covington is on a mission to empower student-athletes at his alma mater. According to The Tennessean, the Houston Rockets forward recently donated $1 million to Tennessee State University.

Covington’s generous donation will go towards the creation of a new practice facility for the HBCU’s women’s and men’s basketball programs. The new building—which will be dubbed the Covington Pavilion—will house courts, locker rooms and offices for faculty. The project is slated to break ground in 2021 and the institution plans on enlisting a Black-owned firm to construct the facility. “I wanted to leave a legacy,” Covington said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “It’s not just for me, it’s for everyone else to come behind me. To have a facility of that caliber, it’ll take the kids to a new mindset because they’ll be able to focus in, within their own environment.”

Dr. Mikki Allen, who serves as the Director of Athletics at TSU, says the new facility will be instrumental in advancing the school’s athletic programs and that Covington’s donation illustrates his commitment to paying it forward. “As the Director of Athletics, I’m extremely gracious and thankful for Rob becoming a stakeholder in helping to change the national trajectory of our basketball programs,” he said. “The narrative is shifting in the landscape of college basketball recruiting in respect to HBCUs landing 5-star talent. Through this historic gift, the Covington Pavilion will now undoubtedly put Tennessee State University in the mix.”

This isn’t the first time that Covington donated to TSU. In April 2019, he gifted the school with $75,000. Covington—who attended TSU from 2009-2013—says his HBCU experience shaped him into the individual he is today, and he hopes that youth will consider furthering their education at a historically Black college or university because of their cultural significance. “I made some of the best memories of my life at TSU,” he said. “It’s special to be at the forefront of something that can spark a major change as far as kids going to an HBCU and learning about Black history, their culture and where they came from. Learning about your ancestors – you can’t always get that in the classroom. That’s a big thing, it’s very important.”


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