April 26, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - A leadership gift from former Michigan State All-America offensive tackle, Flozell Adams, brings the fundraising efforts for Spartan Stadium's North End Zone Expansion Project to over $20 million. The two-story, 50,000-square-foot structure features new locker rooms, training room, media center and recruiting lounge. The $24 million addition is scheduled for completion in July 2014.
Adams' $1.5 million gift is among the largest donations Michigan State Athletics has received from a former student-athlete, and it will enhance the home locker room area. Pending Board of Trustee final approval, the home locker room in Spartan Stadium will be named for Flozell's late mother, Rachel Adams.
"The primary reason I made the financial commitment is because there's a real need for the new facility," Adams said. "The reality is that the locker room has changed very little over the last 30 years, so it's time for a major makeover."
Before she passed away in 1996, Rachel Adams would wait for her son in the tunnel outside the Spartan locker room to greet him after his games. She was proud of Flozell's athletic accomplishments as well as his academic success. Adams recently launched The Fairman-Adams Project, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to aid those diagnosed with breast cancer. Adams lost his mother to breast cancer and in addition to his gift to MSU, he will pay tribute to her legacy through the work of his foundation.
"My mother was my rock. I could talk to her about anything and everything. We spoke on Fridays before every game, and I looked forward to her hugs after every home game. This donation and naming opportunity is the appropriate way to thank her and pay tribute to her. She was certainly a difference-maker in my life, and she loved Spartan football Saturdays."
"Flozell Adams is a big man with a big heart, and this generous gift shows how his leadership continues to make itself felt even after he's left the playing field," MSU President Lou Anna Simon said. "Private support is critical to maintaining Michigan State's excellence across the campus, and this is a great example of how Spartans make a difference in everything they do."
"To have someone of the stature of Flozell Adams give such an incredible gift back to the program in memory of his late mother says so much about him as a person, and it also speaks to how our former players feel about this University and this football program," MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. "We appreciate Flozell's understanding of the value MSU had on his life and his desire to make a positive impact on those that follow, and we're so grateful to him for stepping up and making this very generous gift. We have high confidence that this gift's impact will be felt for many years to come and will help influence others who have been blessed with talent and opportunity to help us in our quest for excellence in all we do."
"We deeply appreciate Flozell Adams' donation to the North End Zone Expansion Project," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "I had the pleasure of being on the coaching staff and getting to know Flozell during his days as a student-athlete here at Michigan State. I always admired him for his competitiveness as well as the genuine compassion and friendship he had for his teammates. He was extremely popular among his peers. As a player, he was committed to striving to reach his full potential. He grew both as a person and as a player throughout his MSU career.
"His achievements at the NFL level and in business have made him one of the most successful student-athletes in the history of Michigan State. His gift will have a tremendous and lasting impact on our football program.
"He had a special relationship with his mother, and it's only fitting that Flozell will have her name affixed to our home locker room."
A four-year letterman and three-year starter, the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Adams earned Walter Camp First-Team All-America and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors as a senior in 1997. A first-team All-Big Ten pick by both the coaches and media as a senior, he started all 12 games at left tackle and helped the Spartans rank No. 24 nationally in rushing offense, averaging 199.5 yards per game. Adams opened holes for MSU running backs, who combined for seven 100-yard rushing games in 1997. He graded out better than 80 percent seven times and recorded 37 pancake blocks. Adams saved his best for his final game in Spartan Stadium, grading out 89 percent overall with a season-high six pancakes against Penn State, as the Spartans gained 452 yards on the ground in a 49-14 victory over the Nittany Lions.
Adams was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (No. 38 overall) of the 1998 National Football League Draft and became a five-time Pro Bowl selection (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008). He spent 13 years in the NFL, including 12 seasons in Dallas (1998-2009) and one year with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010). Adams was named First-Team All-Pro by The Associated Press in 2007. His five Pro Bowl appearances are the second most by a Cowboy offensive tackle in team history. In 2009, Adams was ranked among the Cowboys' Top 50 all-time players (No. 43). He played for the AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and started in Super Bowl XLV against Green Bay.
"We are so grateful to Flozell for carrying on the strong tradition of our letterwinners paying forward, so that others may pursue excellence at MSU," MSU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Development Chuck Sleeper said. "There were so many people who participated in nurturing the relationship with Flozell, starting with his coaches and his teammates, like Trustee (Brian) Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn, who now hold leadership positions with Michigan State, to Coach Dantonio and Mark Hollis, who both have an excellent rapport with Flozell. This was just a great team effort, and again, we couldn't be more proud of Flozell for what this gift signifies."
Michigan State Athletics is funded through self-generated revenues. The majority of these revenues come from charitable gifts through the Spartan Fund, ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and broadcast revenues.
Charitable gifts come from a collective group of donors that comprise the Spartan Fund. This financial support provides scholarships, state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, team travel and all the other tools that help student-athletes succeed in competition, in the classroom and in the community. Fundraising for the North End Zone Expansion Project continues and naming opportunities still exist in this important next step for Spartan Stadium.
Flozell Adams Press Conference Transcript
Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis
As you look at intercollegiate athletics, it's always a time for reflection and a time talking about the past and the future. Today is a day about the future. We just finished a youth clinic with over 1,200 young individuals that were learning the sport of football from our current roster of football players. This afternoon, you're going to see a spring game looking at the future, looking to next season and beyond, what the Spartans are going to look like. And next to me is the past and the future in Flozell Adams, a man of very few words, but very powerful words as we've had an opportunity to talk over time. And as a student athlete, whether you're a basketball manager or an unbelievable football player that had an NFL career, you reach a point in time where you look back, and you look back and reflect on things that had a positive impact on your future and on your life. And Flozell's mom Rachel obviously had a very significant impact, as well as Michigan State University, on all that he's accomplished.
So today, we're talking about the north end zone project; a gift of $1.5 million coming from Flozell to this facility, a facility that will not only impact football, but will be a gathering location for 25 sports for future Spartans, and I'll let him [Flozell Adams] tell you the reason, but many of you know the reason why that building is being built. With that, I'd like to turn it over to President Simon.
Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon
To Flozell, thank you for your generosity, for the role model that you have been as an individual with your passion, your dedication to youth, and the way in which you've represented Michigan State University so well throughout your career here and in the NFL, and now as a citizen of the world. So thank you very much.
I also want to acknowledge that when I sign any letter, whether it's the north end zone project or a scholarship in arts and humanities, it's `Thank you for your support of Team MSU.' A gift to one of us is a gift to all of us. The north end zone project is not simply important to athletics, it's important to the university because we share in the benefit of the new rooms that will be there, much like we've shared in the benefit of the Huntington Club on the fourth floor of this building [Spartan Stadium]. And so it is also important that we have symbols of giving back to the university that are very recognizable, and Flozell clearly fits that definition. And so for us as the institution, as well as for the project so important to sport, thank you very much and we look forward to having you back more often now as a citizen of the world.
Michigan State Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio
I'd just like to first of all thank Flo for his generous gift. You know, Flozell has been back every year for our golf outing. He's been a guy that his teammates have looked up to, literally, for quite some time, but he's always been there. He was there when I came in 1995, he had a tremendous career obviously in college, and then a phenomenal career in the NFL as well. But it's what you do with what you have, I think, that makes the ultimate difference. He's a giver, there's never been any question about that. This locker room is a locker room for the future as [MSU Athletic Director] Mark [Hollis] said. What's more important to me as we move through this are the people we put in the locker room. And the people we put in the locker room will build a future for Michigan State in so many different ways. I just want to congratulate him on his gift. It will make a huge difference not just to our current players but to our players that are coming in the future as well. It puts us on par with probably one of the best facilities in the country. So thank you so much.
On the new facilities fitting into the recruiting process...
When you have an opportunity now to bring [recruits] into a locker room like this and a game day atmosphere when they watch us play and they visit our players in the locker room before the game, maybe they see it after the game, they certainly see it in the recruiting room, it will just be a great gathering place, not just for our program, but for our entire athletic department. What we're talking about with a building of this magnitude can make a huge difference.
His thoughts on Flozell Adams...
He was extremely well-liked by his peers, by the other coaches, and when it came time to play, he strapped it on and played. I'm so proud of him. He said he always watches the Spartans. When the [Dallas] Cowboys played, we were always watching, and that was because of Flozell Adams.
Former Michigan State All-American Flozell Adams
With the Spartan end zone project, I thought it would be a good idea to make a donation to it so it can move forward with the program. Right now is as good time as any to do that because I'm sure you guys have seen the old locker room, it was pretty ancient. But everything that's being done right now with the locker room, the stadium, the program, the university, it's a big step forward to the direction that the university and Coach Dantonio, Hollis, and the President, that we need to go. I think it's a good time to do it now that it's being done, and we can appreciate the generosity of others, as well, that have contributed to this.
I felt that from the bottom of my heart that it was a good decision and it was going to help the past, present, and future. So to Coach Dantonio, to Hollis, to the President: thank you for doing a good job for helping us to move forward.
On the importance of his mother, Rachel, on the donation process...
My mother played a significant role in the process of me coming here [to play at MSU] because we went to a couple other schools and visited, and on the car ride home, she was like `I don't like that school.' I went to [the University of] Michigan and stepped in that locker room and felt the aura and was like `No way.'
She helped me and pushed me here and helped me make a good decision and I don't regret it at all. I'm happy I made the great decision, and her coming to every single game was always good for me because any player likes to see his mom in the stands that day, it's like something you've got to prove. And her waiting for me at the locker room at the end of the game was great. I always like to see my family after the game, and I can just picture it right now and how it was back then, 15, 17 years ago, and it's still a constant reminder of what I went through as a player here, and the contribution that's being made to the locker rooms is just making it better.