- - Friday, December 23, 2011


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia football coach Mike London will have one of his linemen play Santa Claus next week when bowl gifts are distributed in Atlanta.

This week, the role is his.

On Friday, for the second consecutive day, the coach announced a substantial gift to the school. This one a $225,000 pledge toward the construction of an indoor practice facility.

Fundraising for the project has been under way since the fall. The stipulation made to the athletic department was that construction cannot begin until $13 million is raised. Athletics director Craig Littlepage has said the goal is to wrap up fundraising by February so the facility can be completed in time for practices in spring 2013.

London’s gift puts current fundraising at about $9.5 million.

“Coach London’s generosity toward the indoor practice facility makes a very clear point about its importance; this is our top priority,” Littlepage said in an e-mail. “The indoor practice facility will get year-round use and I see it as a necessity for our football team.”

The Wahoos have the Christmas weekend off before reconvening in Atlanta on Monday for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which is Dec. 31.

London made news Thursday by announcing he would match a $50,000 donation to the AccessU.Va. fund from the school’s bowl proceeds.

The coach, a Virginia native, is wrapping up his second year at the school. He has been linked to other job openings, but has maintained he has no interest in leaving Charlottesville.

After the season, he is expected to finalize a contract extension and bonus that will keep him at the school longer than his current deal, which ends in 2014.

In a press release, London said he contributed to the practice facility because he believes it will help the school maintain a competitive advantage in recruiting.

Read Michael Phillips‘ Virginia blog at timesdispatch.com


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