Contact: Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations

MOUNT OLIVE - The University of Mount Olive (UMO) has received a gift of $100,000 from the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. The gift will be directed to the University’s Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex currently under construction. The gift will include naming rights to the adjacent lacrosse field house.

Once completed, the Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex will include an eight-lane, synthetic surface, 400 meter track built with an artificial surface field inside the track, along with areas for throws and jumps. The total cost is estimated at $2 million. Construction is expected to be completed this fall in time for spring competitions.

“We are very appreciative of this donation from the Big Rock Tournament,” said Vice President for Athletics Jeff Eisen. “It is wonderful that their tournament is able to raise money for charitable purposes and that they saw fit to make a very significant donation toward our Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex. The Big Rock tournament leadership recognizes all the great things going on at UMO and the impact that this particular project will have on the University as well as the community.”

“We appreciate the Big Rock Tournament Board of Directors and its staff for making this gift possible,” said Jimmy Williams, from the UMO Institutional Advancement team. “A special ‘thank you’ is extended to Billy Kornegay, a UMO graduate and President of the Big Rock Board of Directors, and to Tom Bennett, Big Rock Board Charity Chairman, for making this gift possible.”

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament celebrated its 58th annual event this year with a field of 174 boats in Big Rock and 125 boats in the Keli Wagner Lady Angler tournament. Proceeds from each tournament year are donated to charities and worthy organizations in the community and state. The entire process is driven by the fit between Big Rock’s five-point mission statement and the destination of the year’s charitable funds. Board members and staff have a firm pledge to make the event as successful as possible so that they may give to worthy organizations.

"The Big Rock Blue Tournament looks for winners, not only in our annual competition, but in our philanthropic work as well,” said Bennett. “With its dynamic leadership, extraordinary growth and impact on the lives of young people on its campus and throughout our region, the University of Mount Olive certainly qualifies as a winner in our book. The Big Rock tournament is pleased to support the construction of the new Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex at UMO and further, to recognize this outstanding institution for its contributions in changing the lives of young people and for the role it plays in Eastern North Carolina. "

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit [1].