Civic Engagement

Robert Covington makes historic pledge to alma mater, Tennessee State University

Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington, an alumnus of Tennessee State University, is one of just two current NBA players that attended a historically black college and university (HBCU), the other being Philadelphia 76ers centre Kyle O'Quinn, who graduated from Norfolk State University.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, Covington announced a plan to make a donation of historic proportions to his alma mater, as he shared that he would be funding new practice facilities for the Tennessee State Tigers men's and women's basketball program, facilities that will be called "Covington Pavilion."

According to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston, Covington Pavilion will be a $1 million facility, which, per TSUTigers.com, makes this "the largest [gift] of this magnitude to an HBCU by a former athlete that was a product of its program."

"I love my alma mater, I'm not donating a new practice facility for the recognition or because I NEED to - I am doing it because I truly WANT to," Covington said in a statement.

"I know what the school didn't have when I was here as a student and I want future generations of kids to have the best resources available to them, to build their futures both on and off the court. I want them to step on this campus and feel like their dreams can come true here, because mine really did."

Construction of the facility is slated to begin in late spring 2021. Covington Pavilion will feature two practice courts, locker rooms and offices for the men's and women's basketball staffs.

Covington, who went undrafted out of TSU in 2013, has carved out an impressive career for himself as he just finished averaging 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in the 2019-20 season, his seventh in the NBA. He credits his time at Tennessee State for many of his successes in life.

"I made some of the best memories of my life at TSU. Go to a bigger school? Nope. I wouldn't change it for the world because the people who've had the most significant impact on my life, they wouldn't be next to me today.

"It's special to be at the forefront of something that can spark a major change as far as kids going to an HBCU and learning about black history, their culture and where they came from. Learning about your ancestors - you can't always get that in the classroom. That's a big thing, it's very important."

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