AC receives $3 million gift for athletics program

Amarillo College is pleased to announce that it has received a $3 million gift that provides its athletics program with a “Founding Sponsor” and a prestigious name for its new home, which henceforth will be called FirstBank Southwest Center. 

The highly visible FirstBank Southwest Center, which rests on the corner of Washington Street and SW 24th Avenue, is presently undergoing a massive renovation that will be completed sometime around the first of the year.

In addition to renaming the building in its honor, the gift establishes FirstBank Southwest (FBSW) as the Founding Sponsor – replete with various co-branding opportunities – of AC’s newly rekindled intercollegiate athletics program.

Andy Marshall, President and Chief Executive Officer at FBSW, said it is by far the largest gift ever bestowed by the storied institution he administers.

“We’re very excited about this gift,” Marshall said. “It’s the largest gift we’ve ever given at any level, anywhere, and we put a lot of thought into it. What we ultimately concluded is that Amarillo College and our community are thoroughly intertwined, particularly through the College’s commitment to workforce training.

“We’re delighted to support athletics at the College and to be at the forefront of everything AC is doing to positively impact the economic future of our region.”

The $3 million gift not only provides a significant boost to AC’s $45 million comprehensive campaign, Badger Bold, but it represents one of the largest single philanthropic gifts ever received in the 93-year history of the College.

“This is an overwhelming and impactful gift,” AC President Russell Lowery-Hart said. “You do not need an entire handful of fingers to count the number of philanthropic gifts the College has received of this magnitude; this is rare.

“Our gratitude to Andy Marshall and the FirstBank Southwest Family knows no bounds.”

Once it opens, the facility will provide a volleyball-specific home for AC volleyball, and offices and workout facilities for the Badger baseball and cross-country teams, too. It will also serve as a premiere fitness center for students, faculty and staff, and affordable memberships will be available for the entire community.

AC Director of Athletics Mark White said FirstBank Southwest, as the Founding Sponsor of AC Athletics, will receive, among other benefits, recognition during home games in all Badger sports, including signage at all home venues, and some games will be designated FBSW days/nights.

“We are on the cusp of opening the nerve center of our intercollegiate athletics program, a building that features a world-class volleyball venue, and we are beyond gratified to have FirstBank Southwest’s enormous support in all that we are doing to reestablish the athletics program at AC,” White said.

“We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with FirstBank Southwest.”

Renovations to the fitness center were delayed by the supply-chain issues wrought by the pandemic; however, soon the 48,344-square-foot building will feature a, modern new look inside and out. The renovation includes a second-story expansion/addition on the south side that looks out on Memorial Park and features cardio and strength training equipment.

AC, which had not participated in intercollegiate athletics since the mid-1980s, returned to the competitive arena in 2022.

Marshall said he has a soft spot for community college athletics that is born of his own experiences.

“I played baseball at a community college, and my son played community college football,” Marshall said. “In fact, my entire family attended community colleges at one time or another, and I am a huge fan of the community college experience.

“Everyone in our family transferred community college credits to the university level and, I can tell you, each of us was far better prepared for university-level academics than we would have been without the time we spent at community colleges.”

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