Converse College officials say a new $2.5 million donation will help the Spartanburg women’s college build a new athletics center.
The new $5.5 million Marsha Gibbs Field House will be named after the trustee who made the donation. Gibbs and her husband Jimmy announced the gift to the school Thursday.
Athletic director Joy Couch said Converse has doubled its sports teams in the past six years, from 5 programs to 10. “Our present facility was built for the five sports that we had,” she told South Carolina Radio Network, “It has three fairly large locker rooms and one very small locker room. We now have ten sports.”
The new 14,000 square-foot building will include new training facilities, a larger weight room, offices, and an academic support center. Enhancements will also be made to the school’s playing fields.
The Converse Valkyries are the only all-female school to play in the NCAA’s Division II tier. Since 2006, Couch said the school has made a commitment to focus more resources on expanding its athletics. It has added equestrian, golf, lacrosse, swimming, and track and field. Couch said the school now has 137 athletes, as opposed to only 37 as recently as six years ago.
“It’s a win for Converse,” she said. ”I think it’s going to be a great recruiting tool. It’s going to be an opportunity for our campus and our Spartanburg community to have another space where they can engage with Converse.”
The school is optimistic that in can raise the additional money needed for the Field House by year’s end. Couch said construction is scheduled to begin by February, and expected to last for a year.
Jimmy Gibbs is the founder and chairman of Gibbs International, Inc., a used equipment company. He is also the managing partner and chairman of Albatros Energy. Marsha Gibbs is a philanthropist who serves on the school’s board of trustees.