Ex-Texas basketball star Kevin Durant to donate $3 million to UT

Trenton Daeschner

Former Longhorn basketball star Kevin Durant is giving back to the Texas basketball program in a big way.

Texas Athletics announced Thursday morning Durant will donate $3 million in total to the school. $2.5 million will go straight to the basketball program, while the remaining $500,000 will go to UT’s Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation. It’s the biggest donation by a former Texas basketball player in UT history.

“My time as a Longhorn helped build the foundation for who I am today as a player and a person, and the UT team will always be my family,” Durant said in a statement. “It’s important to me to continue to give back to the University and ensure that future student-athletes have all the opportunities they need to succeed. It’s an honor to have such a close and unique relationship with Texas Basketball, and I’m grateful to be able to contribute.”

Texas’ current basketball practice facility for both the men’s and women’s teams, Denton A. Cooley Pavilion, will get a new title for its entrance as a result — The Kevin Durant Texas Basketball Center — while the men’s facility will get its own separate title, The Kevin Durant Basketball Facility for Men.

Texas has already made major upgrades to its practice facility, which UT said have already been funded by Durant’s donation. Those upgrades include renovated locker rooms, new court surfaces and new offices.

“We are so lucky to have Kevin Durant as not only one of our all-time greats and a supporter of our program, but also as an awesome ambassador for the University of Texas,” UT athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “I’ve had great respect and admiration for him from afar for years, but now seeing firsthand the impact he has on this campus and within our athletics department, it’s truly amazing. He is a special person who clearly has a great passion and love for the Longhorns, and we appreciate him so much.”

Despite only playing one season for the Longhorns in 2006-07, Durant still racked up a host of national awards and was a consensus first-team All-American, turning in one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history.

Durant took the college basketball world by storm when he became the first freshman in NCAA history to win any of the major national player of the year awards, which included the John R. Wooden Award, the Naismith college player of the year and a list of others.

Durant is one of only three players to have his jersey retired at Texas.

“Kevin Durant has an incredibly strong and personal connection with not only our basketball program, but the University of Texas as a whole,” head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “Each time I’ve had the opportunity to visit with Kevin, I’ve been impressed with his genuine appreciation for his time, growth and development at Texas. This gift means a great deal to our entire University, but it’s more of a reflection of how meaningful the relationships that Kevin built while at Texas remain true to this day.”

Durant has also become one of the NBA’s most recognizable faces and one of the sport’s best players. This past season, his first with the Golden State Warriors after leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder after nine seasons, Durant won his first NBA championship and was named Finals MVP.

He was the league MVP in 2014 and has been selected to the All-Star team eight times.

“As an NBA All-Star, as a gold medalist, as an NBA MVP and now, as an NBA Champion, KD has always had a powerful connection to the University of Texas,” UT president Gregory Fenves said in a statement. “I am grateful for his generosity and investment in the future of UT’s student-athletes.”