Nesbitt pledges second major donation to Ubben Renovation Project


CHAMPAGNE, Ill.— The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics has announced a second significant gift for the Ubben Basketball Complex renovation and expansion project by Steve Nesbitt, a 1976 graduate of Gies College of Business, and his wife Michele. In 2021, the Nesbitts made their first donation to the facility project and now, just six months later, they are expanding that donation to help drive the project’s completion.

“Looking at how close we are to completing fundraising for this much-needed facility improvement, Michele and I just wanted to get us on the home stretch,” said Nesbitt. “We hope this additional commitment will encourage other donors to either make a second donation or get involved in supporting the project. We believe in what we are building and know that state-of-the-art facilities will continue to attract and develop the best student-athletes to our programs.”

A native of Moline, Illinois, Nesbitt received his accounting degree from Gies College of Business. He and Michele now reside in Tampa, Fla. and Philadelphia, Penn. Steve is a successful commercial real estate entrepreneur who got his start as a restaurant franchisee for Wendy’s and Chili’s with more than 140 establishments. Michele is a successful entrepreneur and owner of Just Bare Skin Clinics in Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr, Penn.

“The Nesbitts and people like them are vital to a project as ambitious as what we have undertaken with the Ubben renovation,” said Director of Athletics Josh Whitman called. “They wholeheartedly believe in our vision for Illinois Basketball and recognize the importance of quality and modern facilities to the coaches, students and staff who will use these spaces. We are honored when someone steps forward to support our projects, but for Steve and Michele, to give two such significant gifts in such a short time is exceedingly generous. They are dedicated to helping us build elite and championship programs and we are incredibly grateful for their support.”

Ubben’s renovation and expansion will add approximately 40,000 square feet to the existing structure while remodeling large portions of the existing building. The project includes new offices for coaches and a large entrance hall. Two new half-courts will be added to the existing women’s and men’s fitness areas, giving the two programs additional room to work on developing their skills without disrupting the action across the court. The project will include a new strength and conditioning addition, significantly enlarging locker rooms and player lounges and including a state-of-the-art sports medicine area.

“As construction continues every day and Ubben transforms right before our eyes, it’s exciting to know that we’re just a few months away from having the best facility in the country for our players,” the basketball head coach said Men Brad Underwood called. “This does not happen without the generosity of donors like the Nesbitts. They have shown an extraordinary commitment to Illinois and have made multiple donations to make this project a reality. Engaging loyal alumni and supporting our program at a high level is part of what makes Illinois such a special place.”

To date, Illinois has received $31.3 million in pledges to renovate and expand the Ubben Basketball Complex for the $40 million project.

The gift is part of DIA’s $300 million fundraising goal for With Illinois, its $2.25 billion university-wide fundraising campaign.

Transform Illinois basketball by making a gift for the expansion and renovation of the Ubben Basketball Complex. Forever connect your name to Illinois Basketball’s championship culture! Illini fans who donate $500 or more will be recognized on a donor wall at the Ubben Basketball Complex.


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