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University of Texas at San Antonio officials announced Jan. 19 that Jim Bodenstedt, a graduate of UTSA’s College of Business (1996) and a local restaurant franchise owner, and his wife, Cathy Bodenstedt, a current undergraduate, are the first to award a million-dollar donation to support the upcoming UTSA football program.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for kids to get an education and play football.’ Larry Coker said at the press conference. The student athletic center, currently housed in the Multidisciplinary Studies building, will be renamed after the benefactors: The James and Catherine Bodenstedt Athletic Learning Center. The center will continue to provide academic and personal development programs for UTSA athletes.

“The money will be used to support football scholarships,” Lynn Hickey, assistant vice president and director of athletics said. “This is unbelievable. It is the largest gift we’ve received and is simply outstanding.”

The current football budget is around 2.1 million in pledges, consisting of nearly 50 percent of donations from alumnus.

“It is a good start considering the economy. Hopefully the gift will set an example for other [alumni] to send in donations,” said Lynn Hickey. The fundraising goal is set at $15 million to further expand the athletic department and fund the scholastic careers of its aspiring student athletes.

“We’re thankful for their generosity and vision at this time,” UTSA President Richard Romo proclaimed at a press conference held on Jan. 19 for the Bodenstedts. “It’s exciting to have so many people working to make our football program the best in the state.”

The Bodenstedt’s, who met in high school in the 1980’s, own a 117-unit franchise restaurant company known as MUY Brands LLC. It has acquired popular chains such as Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Wing Street, Long John Silver’s and A&W restaurants. The company owns and operates locations in Texas and New Mexico.

The UT System Board of Regents approved UTSA’s Athletic Initiative Business Plan in December 2008, allowing the university to expand the athletics department as a whole and add a football team in Fall 2011.

The athletic initiative is being funded solely by student fees and private and corporate donations. The funding system is designed so it wont draw from the institutional academic budget and must rely on such donations and alternative revenue streams.

“It’s nice to donate so much during an economic crisis,” Morgan Lozano said, a freshman at UTSA. “I’m glad the donation money is being used for a good cause and is going towards scholarships instead of straining the government’s resources any further. “

UTSA is seeking a program that students can be proud to be a part of while the university continues to develop its status as a national research university.

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